On Monday, Ben Badler of Baseball America reported that three teams, including the Chicago White Sox, held private workouts with young, prized Cuban outfielder Luis Robert last week in the Dominican Republic. Among the trio, which includes the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres, the White Sox were the only ones to send two high-ranking members of the front office. Vice President Kenny Williams and General Manager Rick Hahn both attended.
Three other teams have already held private workouts with Robert, another sign of the high interest of many MLB teams. However, the White Sox stand out from the pack for a couple of different reasons. First, they have not exceeded their international bonus pool money for the 2016-2017 season, unlike most of the other teams that have been chasing Robert. That alone shouldn’t deter other teams, since they’ve already earned the penalty, but it does show that they already spent a considerable amount of money in the international player market, and might hesitate to spend millions more dollars.
Additionally, the White Sox are in the midst of a full rebuild, and a guy like Robert is a perfect fit for them. With the expected trades of established veterans like Jose Quintana and David Robertson, the team is due to shed a lot of salary. Hahn has already publicly stated the White Sox are willing to spend significant amounts of money to build a championship team, and he’ll soon have plenty of cash.
More importantly, Robert would perfectly insert into the team’s future lineup. As of now, the White Sox are stocked with pitching prospects, and also possess Major League Baseball’s number one prospect in second-baseman Yoan Moncada. The only area without a premier prospect would be the outfield, and considering the current outfield is mediocre at best, there’s a lot of improvements bound to happen there. Adding Robert would be a huge upgrade over the current projection, and would make for a deep, well-rounded future squad.
As far as when a deal would go down, May 20 is the first day of Robert’s free agent eligibility. The White Sox will be fairly dismissive of the signing penalty, like the other teams were, and so it’s very probable Robert is snatched before he becomes non-penalty material on June 15. For more information on a potential Robert deal with the south siders, Patrick Flowers was already on it in April.