Former Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada has reportedly signed a five-year, $70 million contract extension with the Chicago White Sox, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
The extension includes a $20 million club option for a sixth year, meaning the 24-year-old would not reach free agency until after his age-30 season.
Moncada enjoyed a great deal of success in a breakout 2019 campaign, slashing .315/.367/.548 with a career-best 25 home runs and 79 RBI over 132 games in his third season with Chicago.
The news of this extension comes on the same day that the Red Sox revealed that Chris Sale has a flexor tendon strain in his left elbow and will be shut down for at least the next week, which is pretty interesting when you consider that Moncada was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Sale to Boston a little more than three years ago.
We’re also coming up on the five-year anniversary of the Red Sox signing Moncada as an international free agent out of Cuba in March 2015 for a staggering $31.5 million.
Moncada quickly rose to become one of the top prospects in all of baseball while in the Red Sox organization, and after making his major-league debut and having a tough time of things during the final month of the 2016 season, he, along with prospects Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz, was traded for Sale that December.
Since that time, it was no surefire thing that Moncada was going to be a big league success with the White Sox. OPS+’s of 103 and 96 in 2017 and 2018 led many to believe that he was over-hyped, but the Cuban national took the first steps towards proving those doubters wrong in 2019.
We already talked about his improved slash line last year, but it is also worth mentioning how much Moncada cut down on his strikeouts. For instance, in 650 plate appearances in 2018, he struck out a league-leading 217 times, or 33.4% of the time he stepped up to the plate.
A year later, he dropped that strikeout rate by nearly six points, instead whiffing in 27.5% of his 559 plate appearances this past season.
Durability remains somewhat of an issue as well, but as he enters his age-25 season, Moncada could really just be coming into his own as a star in the American League Central, both offensively and defensively speaking.
You also have to give credit to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and the young core of talented players he has locked down on long-term, pre-arbitration extensions.
In addition to Moncada, outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert also signed lengthy contract extensions within the last calendar year. The three together are set to earn approximately $163 million over the next five to six years.
Add the lengths of all their contracts, a total of 17 years, and that’s less than $10 million in average annual value, if that makes any sense.
It hasn’t come with much team success to this point, but the White Sox do look like they could be legitimate contenders in the Central very soon.
Bringing this back to the Red Sox, it’s also probably worth mentioning that this Moncada extension could lay the groundwork for Boston to get one done with their own third baseman in Rafael Devers.
Coming into the 2020 season, the two infielders essentially have the same amount of service time, with Moncada having been in the majors 36 more days than Devers has to this point.
The two came through the Sox’ minor league system together and were both going to become arbitration eligible for the first time next year before Moncada signed his extension on Thursday.
I doubt the Red Sox would want to pay Devers more than the ≈ $800,000 he is owed this coming season, but if chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could find a way to work something out long-term and buy out any number of the 23-year-old’s potential free agent years after 2023, that would be quite promising.
Anyway, I would just like to close by saying that I have always been a big Yoan Moncada guy. I’m not going to get into who won or lost the 2016 trade between the Red Sox and White Sox, but I have enjoyed watching Moncada come into his own at the big-league level. Hoping for more improvement from him this season.