2020: The Year of t̶h̶e̶ ̶R̶a̶t̶ La Pantera pic.twitter.com/wjuzdd5OF0
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) January 2, 2020
The deal locks the 22-year-old to the club for six seasons with an option for him to return in 2026 as well as 2027. Robert can make up to $88 million when it’s all said and done. The announcement came a little over a week after our James Fox first detailed the potential extension.
Source: the Chicago #WhiteSox have opened contract extension talks with outfielder Luis Robert. No details on willingness or expectation but the deal would likely be in the 8 year $80-$90 million range.
— James Fox (@JamesFox917) December 23, 2019
James wrote about the information he gathered at the time, explaining the White Sox urgency to lock down a player the organization believes can be a generational type talent. The timing of the extension is crucial, as the Sox wanted to avoid any service time related loopholes.
Under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, the White Sox would have gained an extra year of control over Robert had they decided to call him up following April 16, 2020. The initial deal included a $26 million signing bonus along with an extra $26 million in tax for exceeding their international bonus pool, ultimately excluding them from international draft capital across the 2017-18 and 2018-19 signing periods.
The current CBA is set to expire December 1, 2021 and service time will certainly be a part of the restructuring. Considering how high Robert’s ceiling is, Rick Hahn and company got ahead of an issue that could hypothetically stain a relationship the organization worked hard to develop.
Robert will assuredly land on the Opening Day roster, barring any unforeseen circumstances. In his first full healthy season with the White Sox, the centerfielder mowed through the system boasting a .328/.376/.624 (1.001 OPS) slash line across 122 games and three levels. Robert feels confident in this theory as well, as he stated through a translator, “I’m extremely happy and 100 percent convinced I’m going to be on the Opening Day roster.”
The Sox were active in making sure this deal got done. According to Hahn, the negotiation process began around September of 2019.
“After seeing him for one full healthy pro season, I think it was fairly clear, not just to those of us in the White Sox organization, but throughout the industry, that he has a chance to be a very special talent at the big-league level for a long time,” Hahn said in a conference call. “As we’ve talked about a few times, Jerry Reinsdorf [played] a huge role in making sure we were able to not only secure the player years ago, but extend him at this early juncture of his White Sox career.”
Robert’s development was halted in 2018 due to injuries that resulted in just 50 games played. Following a healthy offseason, Robert quickly moved on from Advanced-A Winston-Salem in 2019, proceeded to bat .314 with an .880 OPS across his initial 56 Double-A games and later sent those juiced International League baseballs into the stratosphere.
Here’s a Luis Robert home run that travelled approximately 965 feet pic.twitter.com/Pn1jN3wiSg
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) January 2, 2020
On top of his quiet swing and monster strength, Robert is an elite baserunner with plus speed. Thanks to our Julie Brady, I’m able to watch him glide the base paths with ease whenever I’m feeling sad.
— Julie Brady (@DestroyBaseball) July 26, 2019
Production and projectable tools is enough to warrant the type of contracts the White Sox presented Robert over what is now three years. However, Hahn is committing not only to what Robert can bring to the field, but also his willingness to do the things necessary to be special.
“I think one of the reasons we were comfortable making this size of a commitment to him this early in his career is his work ethic and his ability to do everything in his power to put himself in the best position to succeed,” Hahn said. “That’s a very important trait that’s going to serve him well in terms of not only maximizing his ability, but adjusting to whatever the big leagues have in store for him.”
Hahn went on to state that, “in terms of his approach, his commitment to the game and how that compliments his tool set and how comfortable we are with his desire to be great” helped reassure the decision to extend him. “It’s not for Luis about securing the money. It’s about being somewhere for a long time and winning with the organization and doing what he can to win. That makes you more comfortable when you’re making a sizable financial commitment to somebody.”
The White Sox made similar types of sizable financial commitments to players such as Nate Jones, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez in the past. Looking ahead to the future, Hahn has the comfort of knowing Robert, Jimenez, Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Nick Madrigal, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal and Andrew Vaughn will be under control through 2022.
“I will do my best to help this team win multiple championships,” Robert said. “I know that we’re going to be able to do it because we have very good talented players.”
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