White Sox

White Sox avoid arbitration with five players as 2020 payroll comes into focus

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USA TODAY

White Sox avoid arbitration with five players as 2020 payroll comes into focus

The White Sox will not go to arbitration this year, avoiding the process by agreeing to terms on one-year contracts with their five remaining arbitration-eligible players Friday.

Closer Alex Colome got the biggest payday, $10,532,500 for the 2020 season. In his first season with the White Sox in 2019, he saved 30 games, bringing his total since the start of the 2016 campaign to 126. His first- and second-half splits were noticeable: a 2.02 first-half ERA followed up by a 3.91 ERA after the All-Star break. But he remains an accomplished ninth-inning man and a valuable piece of the South Side relief corps as the team looks to make a run at a playoff spot in 2020.

Newly acquired right fielder Nomar Mazara will make $5.56 million this season. At the moment, he figures to be the White Sox everyday right fielder, an upgrade from a group of players who struggled to make much of an impact in 2019. Mazara is just 24 years old though has four big league seasons under his belt already, with an average of nearly 20 homers and exactly 77 RBIs in that span. Rick Hahn's front office traded for Mazara during the Winter Meetings, and the general manager has repeatedly discussed what the team believes to be untapped potential in the left-handed hitter. Mazara has struggled against left-handed pitching in his career, with a .231/.272/.361 slash line versus southpaws, leading to the possibility of the White Sox seeking a platoon partner. But as of this writing, Mazara is slated to get the bulk of the at-bats in right.

Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon will make $4.45 million in 2020, though he likely won't pitch during much of the season. He's on the mend from Tommy John surgery, which the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft underwent last May. That leaves a total mystery as to what kind of impact he'll be able to make this season, though he could conceivably provide, at the very least, starting depth later in the season, if not more. Rodon is only under team control for two more seasons, so he'll have a limited window to prove he belongs in the White Sox long-term plans once he returns to full strength.

Utility man Leury Garcia will make $3.25 million in 2020. He played a ton during the 2019 season, finishing with a .279/.310/.378 slash line in 140 games, primarily as a starter in the outfield. He can play all three outfield positions and at three of the four spots on the infield, as well. He could see a lot of time at second base until the White Sox deem highly ranked prospect Nick Madrigal ready for the big leagues. Garcia figures to be a versatile and valuable piece for Rick Renteria, and Garcia's ability to play outfield — plus a mighty affordable price tag — keeps the White Sox bench in good shape despite the decision to non-tender Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez earlier this offseason.

Relief pitcher Evan Marshall will make $1.1 million a year after joining the White Sox as a minor league free agent. He came up to the big league club in May and turned in some stellar numbers out of the 'pen: a 2.49 ERA in 50.2 innings over 55 appearances. While the volatility of relief pitching makes it difficult to bank on that kind of production again in 2020, he remains part of the back-end group of that bullpen, along with Colome, Aaron Bummer, Jimmy Cordero and Steve Cishek, who is reportedly signing with the team, though his deal has not yet been announced.

Catcher James McCann also entered the offseason as arbitration eligible, but he and the White Sox agreed on a one-year, $5.4 million deal to avoid arbitration more than a month ago.

RosterResource.com estimates the White Sox payroll for the 2020 season to be nearly $128 million, an increase of more than $30 million — or more than 33 percent — from the 2019 payroll. Spending doesn't always equal wins, but the White Sox have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're willing to spend to improve the roster and attempt to make the transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode. They've handed out big free-agent contracts to Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnacion, as well as rich extensions to Jose Abreu and Luis Robert.

The White Sox highest Opening Day payroll ever came in 2011, when it stood at $129,285,539. That's less than $2 million more than the estimated Opening Day payroll for 2020, meaning one more addition could make this the most expensive White Sox squad in franchise history.

Possibilities for another addition include one more arm for the bullpen or the aforementioned platoon partner for Mazara in right field. But even if Hahn's work is done for the winter, it will still have been a massive offseason for the South Siders. A massive offseason breeding big, new expectations.

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Watch Luis Robert rope a triple for his first hit of spring training

Watch Luis Robert rope a triple for his first hit of spring training

Of all the excitement surrounding the White Sox entering 2020, Luis Robert might have the most juice right now.

After dominating three levels of the minors last season and fresh off signing a lucrative contract extension before even playing in a big league game, Robert has plenty of buzz around him. On Tuesday, he showed off a little bit of why in Cactus League action.

Robert roped a ball into the right-center field gap and raced to third for a triple.


Robert is known for his power and speed combination, which led to a 30-30 season in the minors last year. This is a good example of it. 

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Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy

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AP

Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy

Is a Yoan Moncada extension in the works?

Moncada's not aware of anything, or so he told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.

"Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to that," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "My focus is just in the game and preparing myself to be in the best position that I can be for the season. Just work hard. That’s my goal right now. That’s where my focus is right now.

"If my agent calls me and tells me there is something ... then we’ll consider it. For now, I’m just focusing on my game and my preparation."

Whether winds blowing throughout the Twittersphere are onto something or not, indeed it is extension season. The White Sox just announced a long-term commitment to reliever Aaron Bummer over the weekend. It was in the run-up to Opening Day last spring that Eloy Jimenez signed his big-money deal that assured he broke camp with the big league club and could keep him on the South Side for as long as seven more seasons.

The big-money deal for Luis Robert — the second for a player yet to play a major league game in as many years — came well before the first full-squad workout at Camelback Ranch. But it shows the continued commitment by the White Sox to keep this core together as long as possible.

Seeing that kind of commitment to Moncada, who emerged as the team's best all-around hitter last season, after struggling through his first full year in the majors in 2018, would not be surprising.

"This tends to be the most productive time of year in terms of getting extensions done," general manager Rick Hahn said the day pitchers and catchers reported to Glendale. "Doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. But especially early in camp when things are a little quieter, it’s a little easier to have those conversations and certainly not distract the player from their in-season games or their late-camp preparation.

"In terms of whether any of those will materialize, we’ll see."

One already has, with Bummer. Could Moncada be next?

Though purely speculation, the White Sox third baseman would perhaps be less inclined than others to jump at big dollars now. After all, he received a record $31 million signing bonus when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as an international free agent. Since coming over to the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade, he's shown why the other color of Sox invested that much in him in the first place. While dancing around some injury issues in 2019, he slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs. He was considered an All-Star snub by many in the home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Whether Moncada and his representation want to cash in now or hold off for a bigger payday in free agency — scheduled to arrive after the 2023 season — is up to them.

The White Sox have shown their dedication to extending a contention window by keeping these youngsters on the South Side for a good, long while. Certainly they would be happy to employ Moncada for as long as possible, particularly if his 2019 breakout was merely a sign of things to come.

Take a look at how long the White Sox have their core under club control:

— Through the 2021 season: Nomar Mazara, Carlos Rodon

— Through the 2022 season: Jose Abreu

— Through the 2023 season: Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez

— Through the 2024 season: Tim Anderson, Michael Kopech

— Through the 2025 season: Dylan Cease

— Through the 2026 season: Eloy Jimenez, Aaron Bummer

— Through the 2027 season: Luis Robert

That's a lot of club control, and moving Moncada down on that list a few spots would only make the long-term future look all the better.

"I feel comfortable on this team," he said. "I have been feeling comfortable on this team since the moment I came here. I actually see myself on this team for a very long time."

We'll see, to borrow a Hahn term, if anything materializes before Opening Day. But if something does, that would be right in line with the front office's strategy as they look to open that contention window.

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