Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Extension Is No Guarantee Despite Giolito’s Wish To Stay In Chicago

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Lucas Giolito wants to be a White Sox for life. Rick Hahn has already awarded long-term contracts to Eloy Jimenez. Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert. Giolito is waiting in line for his.



It is no foregone conclusion that Giolito will receive a long deal. Carlos Rodon had a much better statistical season in 2021 and the White Sox did not even extend him a qualifying offer. It doesn’t look like Rodon will be returning next season either.

The distance separating Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito isn’t that great. What’s to say the White Sox won’t let Giolito walk when his contract expires as well?

Each pitcher has one All-Star appearance to their name as well. What separates the two pitchers is Giolito has been a more durable starter over the past several seasons. Rodon has eclipsed 150 innings just once in his career while Giolito has thrown 170 plus three times.

Giolito does have a good track record in the organization. The White Sox traded Adam Eaton to acquire Giolito during the 2016 offseason. After some early struggles, including being the worst statistical starter in baseball in 2017 Giolito had a career resurgence. He turned himself into an All-Star in 2019 just one year removed from giving up the most earned runs in the league. He posted a 3.41 ERA and stuck out 228. The 6-6 right-hander also led the league in complete games and complete game shutouts.

He put together another solid season during the 60-game 2020 season. Rick Renteria named him the Opening Day starter and he performed like an ace for most of the season. His 3.48 ERA was good enough to finish seventh in the Cy Young voting for the second straight season. On August 25th he tossed the 19th no-hitter in franchise history. Then during the postseason, he earned the win in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series after taking a perfect game to the seventh inning. In 2021 he finished in the top 11 of the American League Cy Young voting for the third consecutive season.

His track record gives the White Sox plenty of reasons to extend him and Giolito wants to stay put.

“For me, I’m always interested in a long-term contract, something where, essentially: Make me a White Sox player for life,” Giolito told reporters.

“But the business of baseball is the business of baseball. A lot of that is out of my hands, so for the time being I’m just going to focus on what I focus on, which is getting better, especially in the offseason right now.”

Lucas Giolito understands that his fate largely rests in Rick Hahn’s hands. Luckily for him, the White Sox has a history of handing out extensions to their young core and it sounds like Hahn is interested in extending the 27-year-old.

” I think our track record speaks for itself on that matter,” Rick Hahn told reporters last month during the GM meetings in California. “We’ve got a pretty long history of being aggressive in trying to sign young guys to long term their stay in a White Sox uniform.”

“Obviously it takes two to tango. There’s got to be a mutual interest in that. We haven’t necessarily converted on every one of our targets over the last couple of decades of working under that approach, but I think it’s safe to assume we’ll continue to work that way going forward.

“I’ve got nothing but great things to say about Lucas in a White Sox uniform, from his performance to his leadership in the clubhouse, to the way he represents himself and the club off the field is exemplary”

That’s some high praise from the general manager. However, Giolito’s hot stretch over the past three seasons will drive his price up. This is working against the White Sox. When they signed Yoan Moncada it was after only one good year, which helped them get a good deal because he was largely unproven. Hahn also signed Jimenez and Robert to an extension before they had even taken a major league at-bat. In the long run, the White Sox got a huge discount.

They will not be so fortunate with Lucas Giolito. The price for premium arms is going up. Max Scherzer just signed a record-breaking contract with the Mets. Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole also just received lucrative deals. Giolito isn’t on their level yet. But he has two years to drive his price up if his career trajectory keeps shooting up.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the two sides were engaged in extension talks before the season but nothing came of it. The White Sox might also look to extend Tim Anderson or Andrew Vaughn. Passan also reported the White Sox engaged with extension talks with Vaughn last offseason as well.

Another factor is that the White Sox has holes to fill in right field and second base. Money will likely be thrown at those problems which potentially takes away from extension money.

It is a difficult balance between locking up the future and taking advantage of the championship window in front of them.

Mitchell Kaminski
Mitchell studies sports communications at Bradley University and works for Braves Vision, an organization that works alongside ESPN broadcasting games and covering Bradley sports. Creator of Dorm Room Dispute podcast.

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