White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has been great for the team since being named to the position in 2013. Arguably his best attribute has his ability to sign Chicago’s young players to team-friendly contract extensions. Hahn’s team-friendly extensions are the sole reason why the current rebuild has been successful and why the team will have sustained success going forward.
Hahn’s first three significant contract extensions are the most important extensions of his career thus far. Back in 2013, the team signed All-Star pitcher Chris Sale to a five-year 32 million dollar deal. A few years later, Hahn signed the team’s second-best pitcher Jose Quintana to a similar contract extension. The first position player signed to an extension was outfielder Adam Eaton in 2015.
It was these three deals that enabled the White Sox to jumpstart their rebuild successfully a year later in December of 2016. The long-term and cost-efficient contracts for All-Star players allowed the White Sox to demand the highest value in return. Hahn was able to trade Sale and Eaton for a slew of top 100 prospects, including Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, and Michael Kopech. In July of 2017, the Sox general manager traded Quintana to the crosstown Cubs for the team’s top two prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease.
The first extension for a young player during the rebuild was shortstop Tim Anderson in 2017. Anderson won the American League batting title last season hitting .335. This signing was huge as it assured the team of having their shortstop through the 2023 season. It would be near impossible to re-sign Anderson to a team-friendly deal following such a historic and unexpected season.
Hahn has gambled the last two seasons to extend the team’s top prospects to record-breaking extensions before either player has had a major league at-bat. The signings allowed Jimenez and will allow Luis Robert to skip service time restrictions along with providing the White Sox with another year of control. Both players are expected to be perennial All-Stars and perennial MVP candidates and will be with the team through 2026.
This week, there have been reports that Hahn is trying to sign third-baseman Yoan Moncada to a record-breaking extension. It would be the first contract in team history to exceed 100 million dollars. If the team can lock up Moncada, they would have nearly half of their starting lineup locked up for the foreseeable future while still having money available to sign another premium free-agent.
The extensions are impressive because Hahn has been able to negotiate with agents already knowing the risk that their clients could miss out on a high payout via free agency. The Sale, Quintana, Eaton, and Anderson signings should have given Jimenez and Robert’s agents a warning to possibly hold out for free agency than taking the money upfront. Hahn has been a master of this craft, which has enabled the team to have a premium collection of talent for mid-level pricing.