Tim Anderson, White Sox reach agreement on contract extension

Tim Anderson, White Sox reach agreement on contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox are so confident in Tim Anderson they've given him the largest contract ever for a player with less than one year of service time.

Designated a key cog in the club's rebuild, the second-year shortstop could remain with the White Sox through 2024 after he signed a contract extension on Tuesday that guarantees him $25 million over six seasons. The deal for Anderson, who was worth 2.8 Wins Above Replacement in 2016, according to baseball-reference.com, could total $50.5 million as it includes club options for 2023 and 2024 that total $26.5 million with a $1 million buyout.

"I'm in a place where I want to be," Anderson said. "I'm happy here. I love Chicago, especially the South Side.

"I made a commitment to be here, and I love being here."

The 17th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Anderson concluded a quick rise through the White Sox farm system when he debuted on June 10 last season. Despite his limited overall experience, Anderson — who was recruited more for basketball before he was drafted out of East Central Community College — had starred at every level along the way and convinced the White Sox he was ready to take over in the majors.

He didn't disappoint, either.

Anderson doubled to left field off Kansas City's Ian Kennedy in his first plate appearance and never slowed down. He hit .283/.306/.432 with nine home runs, 30 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 431 plate appearances.

Anderson also exceeded expectations defensively. Depending on which scout you talked to, Anderson had questions to answer about his glove. But he not only showed quickness and extensive range, Anderson boasted a strong arm and good hands. He produced six Defensive Runs Saved and a 6.3 Ultimate Zone Rating, according to fangraphs.com.

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"We're obviously thrilled," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We think there's a lot of good things to come as he continues to grow as a big league player. We certainly feel he will play a very important role on this team over most of the next decade. We're happy to have him under control for the next eight seasons."

Anderson — who wouldn't have been arbitration eligible until at least 2020 — has been so good that Hahn nearly placed him on the untouchable list this offseason. Having dealt Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, Hahn said he'd discuss deals any of his players but also suggested that Anderson and pitcher Carlos Rodon weren't available.

Anderson is set to earn $850,000 this season. He'll make $1 million in 2018, $1.4 million in 2019 and gets a bump to $4 million in 2020. In the fifth year of his deal, Anderson will make $7.25 million, and he'll receive $9.5 million in 2022. The contact includes club options for $12.5 million in 2023 and $14 million in 2024 with a $1 million buyout.

It's the fifth time in four years that the White Sox have locked a young player up to a team-friendly deal. The team extended Sale in 2013, Jose Quintana in 2014 and Eaton in 2015. All those contracts were signed in spring training. The White Sox also extended Nate Jones in December 2015.

While the contracts afforded each player financial security at a young age, it also made them far more enticing to other teams when the White Sox began their rebuild in December. The trades of Sale and Eaton have stocked the White Sox farm system with more young talent than it has had since the turn of the century. With potentially four years left on his deal, Quintana continues to draw heavy interest on the trade market and it's believed a return package for the 2016 All-Star pitcher would nearly equal the gargantuan packages the White Sox got for Sale and Eaton.

"It was certainly a benefit when it came time to trade them," Hahn said. "The size of the return we got was influenced by the size of the contracts we were under and the added control that came with them. We stand here today and fully intend for Tim to be here and be part of that next championship core. We've obviously still got work to do in putting that together."

Anderson returned to the lineup on Wednesday night after a three-day absence which he attributed to experiencing personal problems on Monday. The team held him out of action for the final two days as the deal was finalized.

Anderson, who said he was glad to return to action, had an RBI triple in the first inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise, Ariz.

"It's a blessing to be able to get it done," Anderson said. "Now I can go out and play and have fun. It's been a hectic few days. We know we were able to agree on something, and now it's just about having fun now."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech is hair today, focused on tomorrow

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech is hair today, focused on tomorrow

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The shoulder length blonde hair that is one of several noticeable similarities between Michael Kopech and Noah Syndergaard is no more.

Earlier this month, the White Sox prospect cut down a mane he’d grown for more than 18 months at the request of his new employers. But uncertain how much they wanted him to remove, Kopech said he went to the barber shop four times in a span of several weeks, including three after SoxFest.

“My girlfriend was harping on me to get it trimmed,” Kopech said. “I got it trimmed right before SoxFest. I say trimmed, it was a lot. I cut about three or four inches off and then right after SoxFest, Rick (Renteria) gave me a call and ‘That wasn’t short enough.’

“I went through that whole process again. I kept thinking about how much they wanted me to cut off. So at first I went to the barbershop and got a little cut off and thought, ‘You know what, this probably isn’t enough.’ So I went back again two days later and thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t enough either.’ So I went back again. I went to the barbershop three times in a week.”

When the deed was finally done, Kopech posted a picture of his new haircut on social media and noted “If you’re not sitting … I encourage you to do so.” White Sox teammate Tim Anderson commented that Kopech looked like “Sunshine” Ronnie Bass of ‘Remember the Titans’ fame. Kopech — who was acquired from Boston in December in the Chris Sale trade — has begun to adjust to his new hairstyle. He also told reporters earlier this week he probably won’t grow his hair as long again.

 “You’ve got to get used to the short hair thing,” he said.

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Kopech is also making adjustments on the field in his first week of big league camp.

The right-hander, who reportedly touched 105 mph on the radar gun last July, is very excited to be in big league camp for the first time. Some of that energy has resulted in Kopech “trying to throw the s*** out of it” with every pitch, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Cooper loves Kopech’s arm but said he wants his young charge to focus on fastball command, not trying to blow it by everyone.

Kopech said he’s started to heed the message and knows how important command of all his pitches will be.

“He was basically putting my mind at ease saying, ‘Hey, you're not going to win anything right away, just get settled in, get comfortable,’” Kopech said. “That's something I'm going to have to grasp the concept of.”

“Coop's preached fastballs away, gloveside. That's something I'm hit or miss on. I've been working on it quite a bit. I can go inside to a right-handed batter all I want, but going away, really hitting that location is big for me. Locating my changeup, being consistent with that is also going to be helpful. Because that's the next best pitch in baseball, other than a well-located fastball.”