Chicago White Sox

Rick Hahn expects 'robust' bidding process for Cuban free agent Luis Robert

Rick Hahn expects 'robust' bidding process for Cuban free agent Luis Robert

All the conditions in place would suggest Luis Robert is in for a significant payday when he’s eligible to sign on May 20.

The Cuban free agent is well-positioned for a big signing bonus as the final international free agent made eligible under the rules of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement. As such, Robert can sign for any amount, with all teams except for the White Sox merely paying a luxury tax matching the amount that they exceed their signing bonus pools. The White Sox would not only have to pay that same tax, they’d have to forfeit the ability to sign any international player over $300,000 for the next two years -- something most of their competitors have already done. With those teams having already reached that threshold, and given Robert’s talent and experience, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn thinks the price tag will end up high.

Hahn sidestepped how involved the White Sox would be in the process even though they’ve reportedly been intricately so the past few months. The team not only has reportedly had constant contact with Robert, both Hahn and Kenny Williams attended a private workout for the outfielder last week.

“It’s going to be robust,” Hahn said. “I’m always optimistic. It’s much easier to go about life that way.

“Look it’s going to be robust bidding and we’ll see how it unfolds in the coming weeks.”

[RELATED: Rick Hahn on White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada: 'We're not going to rush this']

Some believe if Robert were available in the amateur draft he could go as high as the first overall pick. Most believe that at the least he would be a high first-round selection. A combination of Robert’s talent and the harsher rules that go into effect after the current CBA expires has Hahn expecting a bidding war. While Hahn avoiding any public commitment of the team’s involvement, it’s expected that the White Sox will make a strong push for the outfielder. The addition of Robert is critical for a team looking to add as much young, controllable talent as possible. Adding Robert would be akin to a second first-round draft pick for the White Sox, who only in December began their first rebuild in 20 years.

“He’s an extremely talented young man who is going to have an impact on whatever organization he winds up joining and given the fact the collective bargaining agreement changes how these players are treated here these few weeks this is really the last opportunity for certain clubs to exercise strictly their financial might in order to receive such a talent,” Hahn said. “I expect there will be robust bidding on this player.” 

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Nothing is proven, Lucas Giolito will have to come back next season and show he can do this once again. But another huge development in the White Sox rebuild has been the continued development and success of Giolito late in the season.

The young White Sox pitcher added another outstanding performance to the ledger on Sunday afternoon.

Giolito pitched seven sharp innings and helped the White Sox officially avoid 100 losses in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. He allowed a run and five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It’s another step in a nice turnaround for Giolito, who struggled at Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I feel like this is where I can pitch,” Giolito said. “I can pitch deep into games. I wouldn't really say awestruck or anything like that. I’d say that there’s a lot of struggles there earlier this year. I worked through those … I feel like getting the confidence back up, it’s all I really needed to feel comfortable and be ready to go.”

Some of the metrics would suggest Giolito is in line for a dropoff. While his earned-run average is 2.38, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.94. His xFIP is a little lower at 4.42. But the elevated numbers are in part due to Giolito not missing as many bats and striking out 6.75 batters per nine innings.

But Giolito’s big-league numbers also come at a time in which he has never pitched more. He has pitched a combined 174 innings this season, which dwarfs his previous high of 136 2/3 innings in 2016.

Despite the workload, the right-hander continues to bring good stuff. He got seven swings and misses and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball, which averaged 92.3 mph, according to Baseball Savant.

“He's got angle, he's got height,” manager Rick Renteria said “He's got good angle so that creates, believe or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup. So the angle creates some pretty good deception.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign]

Giolito has filled up the strikezone since he reached the majors partly because of belief in his stuff. He’s thrown strikes on 63.4 percent of his pitches and was even better Sunday with 65 of 98 offerings. The other part of it is trust in his defense, which made several spectacular plays behind him.

Giolito knows this is only the beginning. But he feels good after a stretch in which he has quality starts in five of six games. Over the stretch he has a 1.83 ERA and 25 hits allowed with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“My confidence is there,” Giolito said. “I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I’m talking to (Don Cooper) about. There’s always stuff to improve, for sure. I’d say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I’m going to continue to try and pitch like I am.”

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

When searching for why Avisail Garcia has had sustained success this season, you can’t overlook his fitter frame.

The White Sox outfielder entered a breakout 2017 season approximately 18 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. Garcia, who’s hitting .331, doubled, homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 8-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon. Given the way he has performed this season, the first-time All-Star said he plans to work even harder this offseason.

“One hundred percent (better),” Garcia said. “I want to keep losing a little bit more. I want to feel way better next year.”

Garcia has provided the White Sox with a boatload of feel-good moments this season. He cut down two base runners in Friday night’s wild victory over the Royals, including on the final play of the game. Overall, Garcia has felt a difference in the field and it’s shown up in his defensive numbers. He headed into Sunday worth 2 Defensive Runs Saved after he finished the 2015 season at minus-11.

But even more of Garcia’s production has come at the plate, where he reached the 80-RBI mark on Sunday. He followed a one-out Yoan Moncada double off Ian Kennedy in the first inning with an opposite-field blast to right field, Garcia’s 18th homer.

Six innings later, Garcia doubled in a run. He’s hitting .331/.379/.504 on the season and entered Sunday worth 3.5 f-Wins Above Replacement.

“It seems likes he’s always finding barrel and like, man, that’s impressive to go up there, have disciplined at-bats and consistently get the barrel of the bat to the ball,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said.

Garcia’s play has offered him more encouragement to continue his efforts. Though he was adamant at the All-Star Game he wanted to duplicate his first-half efforts, Garcia suffered a series of injuries that bothered him throughout July. But he’s found comfort at the plate once again and knows how important a role his improved conditioning has played.

“The offseason, I have to do the same even harder,” Garcia said. “I want to do my best every year so now I have the ability to be here and trying to help my team. Just have to keep working.”