■ 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

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - By LaMond Pope

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.”

AR­MANDO L. SANCHEZ/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Jose Abreu, left, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Mon­cada and White Sox play­ers walk to a prac­tice field on Feb. 19.

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