■ Yoan Moncada becomes the latest member of the White Sox young core to come to terms on an extension.
Sox core values the team’s plan for long-term success
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Yoan Moncada singled to right field in the first inning against the Cubs, the first of three hits for the White Sox third baseman Friday in a Cactus League game at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz.
Left fielder Eloy Jimenez began the second inning with a walk and later scored from first on center fielder Luis Roberts’ double to right-center.
It was only a spring training game. But it was a glimpse of what the Sox hope to see for years to come from some of their young core.
“We can objectively sit here today and feel like we have three of arguably the most exciting young players in the American League under control for at least the next six years,” Hahn said Friday in Mesa. “And that is a good feeling.”
All three players signed longterm deals in the last 12 months.
In March 2019, the Sox reached a six-year, $43 million deal with Jimenez, 23, who went on to hit 31 home runs, the most among American League rookies. The Sox came to terms with Robert, 22, on a six-year, $50 million contract Jan. 2. He hit a combined 32 home runs at three minor-league levels last season. And on Friday the Sox announced a five-year, $70 million deal with Moncada, 24, who finished third in the AL last season with a .315 average.
“These are young players that are still evolving, who have very likely not reached their ceiling, and they are going to put us in a strong position for a long time,” Hahn said. “Again, those are three players on a 26-man roster, so there is other work to be done around them. But it’s nice to have that base.
“Every team, when you start a rebuild, when you go about this process, you want to find core championship-caliber pieces that you can build around, and we feel we have a number of those. And a good chunk of those we have been able to extend this window through these contracts.”
The Sox also announced a five-year, $16 million extension with 26-year-old reliever Aaron Bummer on Feb. 22. Hahn said it’s a delicate balance — players and the team needed to assess the short- and long-term future — but the culture in the clubhouse helped the Sox.
“Players have their own individual assessment they need to make,” Hahn said. “I do think there is something about the culture that has been created in that clubhouse and the buy-in from the players that increased their desire, at least to be part of this for the long term.
“We know that it comes down to making the right financial deal for both sides, one that provides a lifetime of security for the player and one that provides us with additional control to extend this upcoming window as long as possible. So buying into the culture is important, and finding that right balance is essential.”
Moncada became the latest to buy in, citing a desire to stay on the South Side.
“My agents were the first ones to ask me what I wanted to do, what were my plans in the long run,” Moncada said Friday through an interpreter, “and I told them I wanted to stay here in this organization.”
Hahn credited shortstop Tim Anderson with setting the tone for others to follow.
“Tim has made no secret, both publicly and in that clubhouse, about ‘Hey, let’s all be in this together and let’s do this for as long as we can together,’” Hahn said.
Anderson, the 2019 majorleague batting champion, signed a six-year deal in 2017.
“If we’ve got a chance to do something dope, why not do it for some years?” Anderson said Saturday. “I like playing with these guys, the energy. We’ve all bought in. We know what we want to do.
“It’s easy to play with guys like that, that want to be all in on what it is. Not just for the moment, but for the years to come. It shows. We want to be here. We want to win. We don’t want to play nowhere else. We’re comfortable where we’re at, we’re happy where we’re at. We’re in control of this. This is our team. So why not take control of that to be all in and do our thing together and have this run together? We want to be here.” Sustained success is the goal. “Having players like Moncada, Jimenez, Robert under control for at least six years, not to mention Anderson and Bummer and other starters that are still here — not even mentioning guys like (second baseman Nick) Madrigal and (first baseman Andrew) Vaughn, who are going to provide us with at least six years of control going forward — you can start seeing what the better part of this decade is going to look like for this club, and we’re excited about it,” Hahn said.
Hahn said the Sox are “awfully close” to being one of those teams that gives the opposition fits.
“At the end of last season, we talked about transitioning out of the first phase of this rebuild, the goal being getting to the third stage where we’re capable of winning championships, capable of making a team real uncomfortable,” Hahn said. “We feel like we’re a lot closer to that third stage than we were when the season ended and at the end of this year, we’ll feel even closer than we feel today. How quickly we get there, we’ll find out together.”
Jose Abreu, left, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and White Sox players walk to a practice field on Feb. 19.