The gang’s all here: White Sox avoid arbitration hearings for 2021

Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito (Carl Skanberg)

For those hoping the next White Sox’s next announcement regarding Lucas Giolito would involve a contract extension, the club’s press release announcing the mere avoidance of an arbitration hearing probably underwhelmed.

Nevertheless, with both Giolito and Reynaldo López on board, the White Sox are under contract with all arbitration-eligible players. Here’s how they fared against their top-end MLB Trade Rumors projections:

Nomar Mazara$5.9MNT
Lucas Giolito$5.3M$4.15M
Carlos Rodón$4.5MNT
Reynaldo López$2.2M$2.1M
Evan Marshall$1.9M$2M
Adam Engel$1.4M$1.375M
Jace Fry$1M$862,500

Spotrac puts the White Sox’s active payroll at about $127 million, so the White Sox are running under their 2020 full-season commitments by nearly $4 million (updated).

Giolito’s 2021 salary figure is the most notable. Not only is he the most accomplished of the bunch, but he also came up the shortest of his projection. While MLBTR’s estimates are more useful as a whole than on an individual level, his relatively modest salary might reflect a heightened possibility of an extension, whether it’s because he’s not on some crazy trajectory for earnings over the next three years, or because whatever salary he agreed to for 2021 can be overwritten in a larger deal.

Alternatively, if there is no extension in the works, the low-ish base for Giolito’s salary escalation shouldn’t be something that gets in the way of larger plans. The White Sox have blamed future unpaid earnings as a reason to not splurge on free agents before, but you don’t have to believe it.

* * * * * * * * *

On the international side, the White Sox officially announced the signing of Yoelqui Céspedes, and only Yoelqui Céspedes. They confirmed that spelling of his first name in the press release (there had been some variants), along with a pronunciation (yo-EL-key) and the bonus amount ($2.05 million).’s Jesse Sanchez also tweeted that the White Sox had signed Norge Vera as expected …

… but in a Zoom call via James Fegan, Marco Paddy acted as though it wasn’t quite a done deal.

“We’re working on Vera, and hopefully things develop the way we expect it to happen,” Paddy said on a conference call with reporters. “It’s just a matter of time and hopefully we can reach an agreement.”

Perhaps Céspedes’ name recognition — or more specifically, the name recognition of his brother Yoenis — prompted the White Sox to introduce him before the rest of the class. The team typically doesn’t conduct press conferences with one international signing. Perhaps that indicates their belief in Céspedes being able to contribute to a major-league team sooner than the rest of their signings? With Liam Hendriks being made official on the same day and the White Sox agreeing to arbitration figures as discussed above, it’s not like they were short on news.

Either way, I’ll hold off on the comprehensive round-up post for this signing class until the entire first wave is officially on board.

(Lucas Giolito portrait by Carl Skanberg)

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Giolito contract needs to pay him market rate for any free agent years that are bought out. That’s probably $25-30M/year. Considering how they’ve structured their free agent signings to make room for 2024 and beyond, there’s no excuse to not get it done.

As Cirensica

Giolito making 4.15M and ReyLo 2.1M… I find that hard to read.


Is there much of a precedent for inking an extension after settling on an arb amount? The most recent Sox extensions were pre-arb and I can’t remember how and when the Sale & Q extensions went down.

Put another way: is there still hope for a Giolito extension this offseason or is this a sign that we should hold off on those hopes for another year?


The Abreu extension overwrote the ~$18M he was owed via the qualifying offer for 2020.

DeGrom had an arbitration deal for $17M in 2019. He signed an extension in March that turned that into $7M of salary for 2019 + a $10M signing bonus.

These are just a few examples but there are plenty of you go digging. I think the union doesn’t care if the player reworks their salary for a given year if it means they secure a larger guarantee.


I”m surprised that the total is only $121M. Yesterday, the consensus on here was it was at $130M. That leaves plenty of room to add- Rosario, Q and Flowers would only put it at about $140M and would fill every opening. Even adding just Springer would leave it at around $150M. Come on Jerry and Rick, finish the job.


Fangraghs/Roster Resource still has the total about 10 million higher. Spreadsheet error somewhere


The difference is that Spotrac does not add the pre-arb salaries in yet, while fangraphs estimates the pre-arb salaries at $9.1M. I just compared the two and that’s where I found the difference.


The $121M from Spotrac does not include pre-arb salaries for guys like Kopech, Cease, Heuer, Madrigal, Foster, Collins, Mendick, and/or Crochet.

The FanGraphs/Roster Resource $131M number includes an estimate of about $9M for that group of players. The $131M estimate is more accurate as to what the actual payroll looks like it will be with no new signings.


Using your estimate of $5.4M for 9 pre-arb players and just looking at 26 players, the actual cash outlay in 2021 would only be about $121M ($120M base salaries plus $1M signing bonus for Liam Hendriks).

If you allocate signing bonuses from all guaranteed contacts (which I understand is the standard method for MLB annual payroll numbers and better for year-over-year comparisons), the total goes to $125M ($120M base plus $5M in allocated bonuses for Hendriks, Lynn, Abreu, Moncada, and Jimenez — most of which were paid prior to 2021 with Lynn’s not paid by the White Sox at all).

On top of that, you can count option buyouts on guaranteed contracts for Kelvin Herrera ($1M), Steve Cishek ($750K), and Gio Gonzalez ($500k). Spotrac also lists $1M in deferred money owed to Paul Konerko in 2021. Counting those gets you to $127M-$128M.

Eagle Bones

I always track this in a spreadsheet during the offseason (mostly for my offseason plan, but also just for fun). I’ve got them at that same 127 number that jim does.

As Cirensica

We are no signing Rosario. Our outfield is set. Eaton-Leury-Eloy-Robert-Engel. Actually I think Hahn is done.

A back up catcher probably happens, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The 5th SP will spread innings between ReyLo, Koepch, and Stiever, and Hahn will fix on the trade deadline if it does not work.Pray for health. Pray a lot. Although I wouldn’t be surprised is Hahn brings Adam Wainwright on a very cheap 1 year contract to reunite with TLR.

The DH will be a hydra between Mercedes-Vaughn-Collins, and it will out produce Encarnacion (very low bar)


I agree for the most part. But if we were to sign Rosario, it would be primarily as a DH. I don’t think that’s going to happen anyway — but it’s more likely to me than signing Brantley, Cruz, Ozuna, or Pederson.


The luxury tax payroll is currently at 146.6M. Signing Giolito to an extension now would give them cost controlled certainty going forward and control over one of the top 10 pitchers in the league, but it would also likely mean increasing his luxury tax hit this season from 4.1M to somewhere around 25M. That would put them at almost 170M in luxury tax (still 40M under) without adding anyone else.

Im sure that we would all like for A) the Sox to add more depth to this team, and B) extend Giolito at some point in the very near future. But I don’t realistically see Jerry approaching the luxury tax or even the 200M neighborhood.

My hope is that Hahn has a Giolito extension in the works and is waiting to get that done before some minor signings to finish the offseason. Whatever major league additions are coming will be off the scrap heap with minor league signings to round out. I don’t think we are going to see any big one year deals, or multi year signings for any remaining FA.


If an extension is signed with Giolito, I wouldn’t expect it to be a monster deal. The 3 years of control they already have through 2023 covers most of the current window of contention based on existing contracts, with Robert the only player with a guaranteed contract by 2025 (with options on Moncada, Jimenez and Bummer). Plus, the current White Sox management does not seem inclined to enter super long-term big-money contracts with pitchers who are bigger injury risks than position players.

So I wouldn’t expect more than a 4-5 year extension, buying out 1-2 years of free agency. That kind of term could also work well for Giolito, since it would have him entering free agency at 30-31 years old, arguably giving him a better opportunity to secure another big contract than with a 6-7 year extension which would have him entering free agency at 32-33.

If it’s a 4-year extension, it would probably pay something like 5/10/15/25, maybe with a 5th year option at 30M with a 5M buyout. That would be 4/60 guarantee for a 15M AAV for luxury tax purposes. At 5 years, add another 30M guaranteed for 5/90 and a 18M AAV.


Giolito is under team control for 3 more seasons. I really don’t see any reason to rush into a long term contract. With the Sox’ recent history of pitcher arm injuries, plus Giolito’s own TJ history, plus the fact that they let his personal catcher go, I’m not going to be too torn up if they let him pitch another year before trying to pull the trigger on an extension.

If he pitches lights out this year and earns himself an even bigger contract extension, you’re probably looking at a team that won its division, made a ton of money for ownership, and is helping to drive up fan interest/future attendance. Having to hand him a bigger extension would be one of those good problems at that point.


This offseason is probably best for team/player motivation for an extension. Another big season from Giolito and he may price himself out of the Sox getting any sort of deal, and he’s that much closer to FA (and so has less motivation to sign an extension).