While we wait for the White Sox’ reported agreement with Luis Robert to become official, the details are coming in at a trickle.
For instance, the financial terms. The most conclusive amount is still the number Jeff Passan gave:
Sources: Cuban OF Luis Robert has agreed to terms on a deal with Chicago White Sox worth slightly above $25M. Total outlay after tax: $45M+.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 20, 2017
We also don’t yet know whether the White Sox had the top offer for the 19-year-old Cuban center fielder. Dan Hayes said he believed the White Sox were outbid, while the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold said the Cardinals “were left with the impression their bonus was trumped” and “they did not have a chance to top.”
“If I had a guess it would be the overall bidding,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “What I know is that we didn’t sign him. All negotiations have different nuances. All negotiations have different risks. All negotiations have different upside. This was certainly a unique opportunity for us because historically we are not playing or trying to sign these types of players. I don’t second-guess our strategy or second-guess our approach.”
It’s a better story if the Cardinals offered more money, because then you could really play up the significance of the recruiting video the team made with Jose Abreu, Rick Renteria and Yoan Moncada, not to mention the fact that a team with a great eye for talent was willing to lay out more money for him.
However, even if Goold’s account is correct in that the White Sox came with a higher bid, if Robert didn’t farm it to the Cardinals for one last shot, that suggests that the White Sox’ Cuban connection had some degree of resonance.
Abreu didn’t want to speak about Robert specifically until the deal is official, but his view of the Sox’ Cuban legacy comes off as more than salesmanship:
Abreu’s message undoubtedly was genuine, coming from a man who not only loves how he has been received by White Sox fans, but also was floored at how well the team treated Cuban icon Minnie Minoso until his death in 2015.
“From the bottom of my heart, that is something that is very special to me,” Abreu said through an interpreter on Friday. “I really appreciate that. The way this team has treated the Cuban players and the Latino players in general, that’s something that is important and I really, really appreciate it.”
Likewise, it’d be equally rewarding if the White Sox showed the rest of the baseball world an advantage of having baseball’s only Hispanic manager, since Latinos are wholly underrepresented in MLB leadership ranks. Renteria tooted his own horn a little on this front:
“Is there value to my cultural experience and how I grew up and the experiences I’ve had in general?” Renteria said. “Yeah. Absolutely. No question about it. I’ll take advantage of it to the extent that I can get the most value out of the players playing for me both Anglo and/or African American and/or Hispanic.”
Beyond the cultural aspects of the Sox’ pursuit, it’d be nice to hear about a Jerry Reinsdorf team nailing a sales pitch as a counterexample to memorable swings and misses from years past (Tracy McGrady and Torii Hunter, to name a couple).
But hell, even if Robert is joining the White Sox because they pointed a bigger money cannon at him, that’s a huge departure from a previous way of doing things. There’s simply no way to spin this signing the wrong way, even if Robert fails to pan out years down the road. Regardless of what becomes of Robert, this is the best way for the White Sox to spend their resources at this time, and while we may never know the exact degrees, all of these elements probably made it possible to seal the deal.