Rebuilding White Sox looking to lock up their starting shortstop with long-term deal

Over the winter the Chicago White Sox took the plunge and began a full-blown rebuild. Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were traded away, and it’s only a matter of time until others like Jose Quintana , David Robertson  and Todd Frazier are dealt as well. Only the Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins have longer postseason droughts than the White Sox, who haven’t played October baseball since 2008.

Part of Chicago’s up-and-coming core is shortstop Tim Anderson , who made his MLB debut last summer and hit .283/.306/.432 (102 OPS+) with nine home runs and 10 steals in 99 games. Add in his strong defense and it works out to 2.8 WAR. That didn’t come out of nowhere. Prior to last season Baseball America ranked Anderson as the 45th best prospect in baseball, two spots ahead of AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer .

Now, with the rebuild in full swing, the White Sox want to make sure Anderson is around for the long haul. The club is reportedly negotiating a long-term extension with their 23-year-old shortstop. The White Sox have not confirmed contract talks nor is there any indication a deal is imminent.

The White Sox have been fairly aggressive when it comes to locking up their best young players long-term. Quintana, Sale and Eaton all signed long-term extensions in recent years -- one reason Eaton was so in demand was his team-friendly contract -- and you can even go back to the days of Gavin Floyd and John Danks . Chicago is not shy about committing serious money to its top youngsters.

It’s not often a player signs a long-term contract with less than one year of service time. Usually clubs like to see a full season before committing to a multiyear deal. Here are the only players to sign a long-term deal with less than one-year of service time over the last decade:

  • Jon Singleton , Houston Astros : Five years, $10 million with three options in June 2014.
  • Chris Archer , Tampa Bay Rays : Six years, $20 million with two options in April 2014.
  • Salvador Perez , Kansas City Royals : Five years, $7 million with three options in February 2012.
  • Matt Moore , Rays: Five years, $14 million with three options in December 2011.
  • Evan Longoria , Rays: Six years, $17.5 million with three options in April 2008.

Not a long list, especially among non-Rays teams. And aside from Singleton, who had yet to play in MLB when he signed his deal, the contracts all worked out pretty well for the teams too. Bottom line: The sooner you sign your bright young players to an extension, the more likely it is you’re going to save yourself a boatload of cash down the line. It’s good business, and hey, the player gets a nice little payday early in his career as well.

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The White Sox are reportedly trying to lock up shortstop Tim Anderson. USATSI

There’s so little historical precedent for a player signing long-term with less than one year of service time that it’s difficult to get an idea of what an Anderson extension may look like. It is safe to assume the White Sox are going to want to buy out some free agent years, which means the deal figures to cover seven years or more. (Players qualify for free agency with six years of service time.) Each of the contracts above covers at least eight seasons between guaranteed years and club options. 

Whatever the terms of a potential Anderson extension, the White Sox right now are trying to accumulate young talent and identify players who can be core members of the next great White Sox team. The fact they’re looking to lock up Anderson tells us they’ve identified him as one of those players.

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