One of the baseball’s best farm systems just got better, as the Chicago White Sox are expected to add Cuban outfielder Luis Robert. Robert becomes the latest White Sox addition made by general manager Rick Hahn in the past seven months. Robert’s signing could have several ramifications on the current roster, as well as the minor league system. From what we know, the White Sox rebuilding program gets a huge boost.
CBS Chicago is just one of the media outlets confirming the reports of Luis Robert becoming the Chicago White Sox newest signing. The 19-year-old is one of the top international prospects on the market. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to cite the new White Sox outfielder.
Robert’s representatives held a private workout in the Dominican Republic with several MLB teams on hand, including the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox left feeling impressed with the Cuban prospect. Up until the past few days, they were mum on the possibility of his signing. Being silent is a strategy that has appeared to pay off huge dividends.
According to Bleacher Report, Robert was slated to officially become an MLB free agent on May 20. Leading up to the first day Robert could sign with a team, the number of candidates had whittled down to the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Hours into the beginning of Robert’s free agency, it was announced that the White Sox will indeed sign him to a lucrative contract.
Sources: #WhiteSox closing in on Luis Robert. Deal expected to be more than $25M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 20, 2017
The terms of the Luis Robert signing have not been announced, but it is rumored to be somewhere in the $25-30 million range. Also, the Chicago White Sox have yet to confirm the latest addition. Once Rick Hahn gets Robert to officially sign off on his contract, expect for the White Sox to make some type of formal introduction for the young Cuban star.
— MLB (@MLB) May 20, 2017
Once the particulars of Luis Robert’s contract become finalized, it expected that he will join one of the White Sox minor league affiliates. He will likely begin his MLB career with a low Single-A team. Single-A ball will be a step up in competition for Robert, who has advanced in his development at every step. After dominating older talent in the 2016-17 Serie Nacional season, he could be ready for what some of the challenges that MLB prospects have to offer in terms of different pitching and travel.
In Luis Robert, the Chicago White Sox add one of the most-heralded international prospects available in the last few years. With the signing, the White Sox will have depleted most of their allotted spending on foreign prospects who are MLB draft eligible. For the next two years, the most Rick Hahn and the team can offer is roughly around $300,000. If Robert pans out, it will be well worth the huge investment.
According to CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes, the Chicago White Sox were outbid by the St. Louis Cardinals for Luis Robert’s services. It took a strong recruitment pitch by current White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and manager Rick Renteria to help sell Robert on the idea of joining the team.
— CSN Chicago (@CSNChicago) May 20, 2017
As a fellow countryman of Robert, Jose Abreu’s influence may have proved to be invaluable. Abreu is one of the most popular MLB players from Cuba and he is beloved by the players who have followed in his footsteps. His locker room presence, being able to vouch for the culture of the White Sox clubhouse, and being one of the faces of the franchise went a long way in the recruitment of the 19-year-old. Having a manager in Renteria, who speaks fluent Spanish also helped.
The White Sox not only had Abreu and Renteria to aide in luring Robert, but MLB’s top prospect Yoan Moncada, also from Cuba, played a pivotal role.
Moncada is expected to join the White Sox MLB roster sometime during the season. He had a hand in the recruitment as well. Being able to sell Robert on the idea that they both could someday play in the majors together is a good strategy. If Jose Abreu is still with the White Sox, it would only make Robert’s MLB transition go smoothly.
It may also signal that the Chicago White Sox are not looking to deal the slugger unless a huge trade offer came along. Moncada and Robert both look up to Abreu, by having him around would be a win-win for the team.
As far as the minor league system is concerned, Luis Robert instantly becomes one of the Chicago White Sox top five prospects. As he develops as a player he could shoot up the White Sox rankings and MLB’s prospect ranks.
It will be curious how that will affect the way the Chicago White Sox farm system is viewed over the next few months. Just a year ago today, the White Sox had a minor league system ranked in the bottom half of the MLB. The Luis Robert signing adds a nice touch to a program that should be in the top five soon.
[Featured Image by David Banks/Getty Images]