The primary focus around the White Sox’ offseason at present is their ongoing slate of trade negotiations surrounding righty Dylan Cease, the 2022 AL Cy Young runner-up. Rookie ChiSox GM Chris Getz said last month that there are no players on the roster that he deems untouchable, Cease included, but he continues to describe center fielder Luis Robert Jr. differently that others on his roster.
Getz openly acknowledged widespread interest in Cease yesterday (link via Scott Merkin of MLB.com), noting that there’s no club in MLB that “doesn’t have a level of interest” before eventually adding that Cease is “right at the top” of the offseason market for starting pitching. On Robert, however, Getz understandably struck a different tone.
“Luis Robert is a very difficult player to move and expect that your club is going to get better because of it,” said Getz. “We’re talking about one of the best players in baseball, and we’re very fortunate to have him with the Chicago White Sox. So I have a tough time seeing him wearing another uniform next year.”
Getz again sidestepped the type of firm denial his Anaheim counterpart, Perry Minasian, put forth today on former AL MVP Mike Trout. But Getz also continues to characterize Robert as someone who’s all but assured of staying put on Chicago’s South Side. The reasoning isn’t hard to see. While the Sox are coming off a disastrous 101-loss season, Robert was nothing short of sensational i 2023, hitting .264/.315/.548 with 38 home runs, 36 doubles, 20 steals (in 24 tries) and plus defense in center field. Had the White Sox not been all but eliminated from contention by the end of April, Robert quite likely would’ve found himself on more MVP ballots. (He finished 12th as it is.)
Beyond Robert’s general excellence on the field, he’s also just 26 years old and is signed for another two seasons with two subsequent club options thereafter. In all, he can be controlled through the 2027 season at a combined total of $67.5MM. That type of commitment over a four-year term from a prime-aged center fielder with an MVP-caliber ceiling is a staggering bargain — particularly when the last two seasons aren’t even guaranteed (thus affording the team an eject option if Robert incurs a significant injury).
Ultimately, a trade feels decidedly unlikely. We haven’t seen an established player with this level of affordable contract/team control traded in some time; Juan Soto might be the best recent comparison, but he had just two and a half seasons of control remaining and was expected to earn more than Robert over the course of his remaining control as a player going year-to-year through arbitration (with enormous counting stats).
Once Shohei Ohtani and other top free agents are off the board (ditto Juan Soto and other prominent trade candidates), clubs who miss out on those top targets could well circle back to the White Sox and Robert. However, the type of farm-depleting haul that Robert would command is probably one from which nearly any of Getz’s peers would shy away.