Luis Robert signs extension
For the second straight year, the White Sox have signed one of their top prospects to a big contract extension before they played a game in the majors. This time, it was Luis Robert, who signed a six-year deal worth $50 million along with two team options that can take the total value up to $88 million. This is an interesting deal, and it has to be mentioned right at the top that a big reason these deals can happen is teams waving illegally manipulating service time in front of a prospect. By the rules, Robert is giving away two free agent years here, but because the White Sox were sure to manipulate his service time at the start of the year it is functionally only one. There is something wrong when that practice — which, again, is not legal even if it’s easy to get away with — is blatantly being used as a negotiation tactic. From a player’s perspective, while I don’t think these deals work for the overall good for the players it’s hard to blame any individual player for passing up life-changing money. Many will point to Robert’s $26 million signing bonus he signed a couple years ago, but given what we know about the process of players coming from Cuba and all we almost certainly don’t know, I do question how much he actually got.
As far as how this affects the on-the-field product, Robert will now start the year on the roster, which is certainly better for the White Sox. It won’t make a huge overall difference since he was likely to be up a couple weeks into the year anyway, but in a division and wildcard race that could very likely come down to a one- or two-game difference, Robert’s presence could make an impact. Long-term, if gives them some cost-certainty, and given Robert’s status as an elite prospect, it likely saves them plenty of money in the second half of the deal.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox don’t have a prospect to sign this kind of deal with, so we can start with that. Furthermore, Chicago is setting up to be a problem in the American League for a long time.
Domingo Germán suspended for 63 additional games
Domingo Germán has been given an 81-game suspension by MLB under its domestic violence policy, which was started at the end of last season. At the time, it was an indefinite suspension, and with this figure we now know he will miss 63 additional games to start the 2020 season. This is the fourth-largest suspension from the league under this policy and the largest to a player against whom charges were not filed. Other than the facts, all I’ll say here is that anyone wondering why the victim won’t speak publicly about what happened should listen to Lindsey Adler of the Athletic for that reason.
Sox Spin: Obviously, domestic violence is extremely serious and any effect on the field is trivial. That said, this obviously makes the Yankees worse in 2020.
Angels sign Jason Castro
The Angels still need some more pitching, but while they try to find that they are continuing to build their deepest lineup of the Mike Trout era. This time it comes in the form of Jason Castro, who was signed to a one-year deal worth $6.85 million. Castro has somewhat quietly been average or close to it at the plate in three of the last four years, which is not exactly normal for catchers. He also plays very well behind the plate. This was a huge hole on their roster, and they were able to fill it with a solid contributor without eating too much money, leaving them more cash for a potential trade. You know to whom I’m referring.
Sox Spin: Yeah, they still have money for David Price. Potentially.
Nationals sign Will Harris
Perhaps the most interesting signing from Thursday was the last one to come down, with Will Harris agreeing to terms on a three-year, $24 million deal with the Nationals. This is interesting, not only because the defending champions signed a good player but also because said good player was the one to give up the now-legendary homer to Howie Kendrick. His first introduction to the Washington crowd will be a sight to see. On the field, the Nationals bullpen was their biggest weakness in 2019 and they get one of the more consistent righties in the game with this deal. This could also mean that Daniel Hudson will be signing elsewhere.
Sox Spin: It’s not clear that the Red Sox will even sign a reliever, although they were attached to Sergio Romo in rumors earlier this winter, for whatever that’s worth. If they are looking to, like I said above Daniel Hudson may have just become more available.