A long-term deal between right-hander Lucas Giolito and the White Sox “hasn’t been talked about at all,” Giolito tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know that’s kind of like the new thing, organizations coming to young players. But I haven’t thought about it myself, and I don’t know where the White Sox are at, either. Just keep playing, play well, and all that stuff takes care of itself,” Giolito said.
It isn’t surprising that the club has yet to broach a deal with Giolito’s reps at CAA Sports, as players in general prefer to stay away from in-season extension talks for fear of distraction. Needless to say, the Sox don’t want to do anything to throw Giolito off during what has been a breakout season for the 24-year-old. Giolito has a 2.74 ERA, 10.97 K/9, and 3.59 K/BB rate over 85 1/3 innings for Chicago, with a 14.6% swinging-strike rate that easily tops his previous career high of 10.1% (in 2017), and a drastic reduction in the home run issues that plagued Giolito over his first three seasons in the big leagues. The righty has only an 0.8 HR/9 in 2019, as opposed to a 1.6 HR/9 in his 240 innings prior to the current seasons.
There isn’t any particular rush for the White Sox to seek out an extension, as Giolito isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season and free agency until after 2023. Plus, it could be that the front office wants to see just a bit more positive evidence before making a big financial commitment given how Giolito struggled last season, though MLB success has long been predicted for the right-hander. If it weren’t for elbow problems that eventually required Tommy John surgery, Giolito might have very well been the first pick of the 2012 draft, and was still taken 16th overall by the Nationals. After returning to health and becoming a staple of top-prospect rankings (Giolito was a consensus top-five prospect prior to the 2016 season), he was part of the trade package the Nationals sent to the White Sox for Adam Eaton in December 2016.
As Van Schouwen notes, the White Sox have been proactive in extending young talent since Rick Hahn took over as general manager. Such notable names as Eaton, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Nate Jones, Tim Anderson and (just this spring) Eloy Jimenez have all signed extensions under Hahn’s regime, and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the Sox approach the likes of Giolito or Yoan Moncada about a multi-year contract in the offseason.
In terms of possible comps, Giolito will have between two and three years (two years, 80 days) of MLB service time if he remains on Chicago’s 25-man roster for the rest of the season, which seems like a lock. German Marquez had a similar amount of time on his MLB clock when he inked a five-year, $43MM extension with Colorado in early April, though Marquez is about seven months younger than Giolito and had more of a proven track record at the Major League level. Luis Severino also has had more consistent big league success than Giolito, though Severino’s four-year, $40MM extension with the Yankees may also have not have been an ideal model since that contract covered four arbitration years (Severino is a Super Two player).