All the conditions in place would suggest Luis Robert is in for a significant payday when he’s eligible to sign on May 20.
The Cuban free agent is well-positioned for a big signing bonus as the final international free agent made eligible under the rules of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement. As such, Robert can sign for any amount, with all teams except for the White Sox merely paying a luxury tax matching the amount that they exceed their signing bonus pools. The White Sox would not only have to pay that same tax, they’d have to forfeit the ability to sign any international player over $300,000 for the next two years -- something most of their competitors have already done. With those teams having already reached that threshold, and given Robert’s talent and experience, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn thinks the price tag will end up high.
Hahn sidestepped how involved the White Sox would be in the process even though they’ve reportedly been intricately so the past few months. The team not only has reportedly had constant contact with Robert, both Hahn and Kenny Williams attended a private workout for the outfielder last week.
“It’s going to be robust,” Hahn said. “I’m always optimistic. It’s much easier to go about life that way.
“Look it’s going to be robust bidding and we’ll see how it unfolds in the coming weeks.”
Some believe if Robert were available in the amateur draft he could go as high as the first overall pick. Most believe that at the least he would be a high first-round selection. A combination of Robert’s talent and the harsher rules that go into effect after the current CBA expires has Hahn expecting a bidding war. While Hahn avoiding any public commitment of the team’s involvement, it’s expected that the White Sox will make a strong push for the outfielder. The addition of Robert is critical for a team looking to add as much young, controllable talent as possible. Adding Robert would be akin to a second first-round draft pick for the White Sox, who only in December began their first rebuild in 20 years.
“He’s an extremely talented young man who is going to have an impact on whatever organization he winds up joining and given the fact the collective bargaining agreement changes how these players are treated here these few weeks this is really the last opportunity for certain clubs to exercise strictly their financial might in order to receive such a talent,” Hahn said. “I expect there will be robust bidding on this player.”