The White Sox have opened negotiations on a contract extension with third baseman Yoan Moncada’s newly hired representatives at the Movement Management Group, as first reported by James Fox of FutureSox.com (Twitter link). Bruce Levine of 670 The Score writes that the two sides have had only “initial” talks but cautions that no deal is close at this time. Asked directly about the rumored talks, Moncada himself said he was not aware of any current talks but voiced a desire to stay with the White Sox “for a very long time” (link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times).
Moncada, 24, is already under club control through the 2023 season and won’t be eligible for arbitration until next winter. Both Fox and Levine note that a potential extension would likely be the largest in White Sox franchise history. Currently, Yasmani Grandal’s four-year, $73MM deal is the largest the Sox have ever issued.
The switch-hitting Moncada was one of the highest-profile international free agents in history and agreed to a $31.5MM signing bonus with the Red Sox back in 2015. He was arguably the game’s top overall prospect when Boston sent him to Chicago as the headliner in the Chris Sale blockbuster, and while it took some time, Moncada broke out in a big way this past season.
In 559 plate appearances in 2019, Moncada hit .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs, 34 doubles, five triples and 10 stolen bases — all while cutting his strikeout rate by nearly six percent (from 33.4 to 27.5). Reviews of his glovework were a bit mixed; Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at -7 runs, but Ultimate Zone Rating (4.3) and Outs Above Average (5) both graded Moncada as an above-average defender.
As for what to expect from the extension itself, the number of recent comparables aren’t exactly plentiful. Alex Bregman secured a five-year, $100MM deal a year ago when he was in the same service class that Moncada finds himself right now. That deal technically begins in 2020 and bought out Bregman’s three arbitration years and two would-be free-agent campaigns. Moncada’s 2019 season wasn’t as strong as Bregman’s 2018 platform, but his power numbers and counting stats will play similarly well in arbitration, giving him strong earning potential from 2021-23 (his would-be arb seasons). If the Sox are comfortable offering a term of six or more seasons, then a Moncada extension could well approach or even exceed that $100MM plateau.
From a broad perspective, an extension for Moncada would represent the continuation of the White Sox’ efforts to keep the young core they spent years trying to acquire for the long haul. Chicago signed outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert to long-term deals before either played his first MLB game. Shortstop Tim Anderson was signed to a six-year deal with a pair of club options prior to the 2017 season, and just this past weekend, left-hander Aaron Bummer was signed to a five-year contract.