The White Sox have set themselves up for a lengthy contention window thanks to long-term contracts for their young stars.
Are more on the way?
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the White Sox "have been engaging" both Lucas Giolito and Andrew Vaughn in talks about deals that would keep them on the South Side for the long term. Passan added that they "haven't been able to lock down either" yet.
RELATED: Sox fifth-starter battle between Rodón, López gains clarity
The approach wouldn't be at all surprising considering the team's recent success in extending some of the cornerstones of its rebuilding project. Eloy Jiménez signed a long-term contract before playing a single major league game in 2019. Same for Luis Robert a year later. Yoán Moncada joined that duo with a long-term deal last spring. You can dial all the way back to Tim Anderson, who started the trend when he was in the early stages of his big league career.
Though Rick Hahn's rebuilding effort can't be deemed a success until the White Sox reach baseball's mountaintop and win a championship, part of the reason for the long-term optimism on the South Side is that flurry of extensions. Anderson, Moncada, Jiménez and Robert are under team control through 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, respectively. Their team-friendly salaries figure to help the White Sox allocate resources elsewhere to improve the roster as the years go along.
Giolito, of course, is a no-brainer target for a similar deal. After putting up the worst statistics of any starting pitcher in the game in 2018, he's spent the past two seasons blossoming into one of baseball's best pitchers. He made the American League All-Star team in 2019, threw a no-hitter last summer and took a perfect-game bid into the seventh inning of his first postseason start last fall. The ace of the staff, Giolito was rewarded with his second straight Opening Day start earlier this week.
Of course, Giolito's in a different bargaining position than any of the four players mentioned above. Though Moncada had a breakout season in 2019, not even he could boast the resume Giolito can at the moment, perhaps making the idea of testing the open market an intriguing one when he's scheduled to hit free agency following the 2023 season.
But few players have been as confident in and excited about the team's future than Giolito, and having been through the team's rebuilding years, he's developed into a team leader in the clubhouse.
Meanwhile, an extension for Vaughn would fall right in line with the deals the White Sox handed out to Jiménez and Robert. Neither had been in a big league game when they inked their long-term contracts. Vaughn's experience is even smaller, limited to just 55 minor league games after he was drafted in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his minor league season in 2020, and he's never played a game above A-ball.
That hasn't stopped the White Sox, though, from raving about his bat, and he's done everything he can to show he's major league ready with a terrific spring. He seems destined to be the White Sox designated hitter come Opening Day and man that position most every day during a 2021 season the team enters with World Series expectations.
Hahn has long talked about this rebuilding project being a long-term endeavor, one that ends with the White Sox competing for championships on an annual basis. The long-term deals for the team's core players have made that more likely, and more of them would only add to that optimism.
Click here to subscribe to the White Sox Talk Podcast for free.