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No chess necessary: White Sox avoid arbitration with all five players

Raises received, big and small

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Will ReyLo become one of the back of the pen options in 2023?
David Berding/Getty Images

With Friday’s deadline for teams to agree on 2023 contracts with arbitration-eligible players, multiple sources are reporting that the White Sox have reached agreements with all five of their cases: Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo López, and José Ruiz.

It’s refreshing news that the Sox avoided arbitration hearings, especially given the embarrassment of haggling with Giolito over $50,000 just one year ago. The team needs all the positive vibes they can muster heading into Spring Training given the anguish of the 2022 season and squandered hopes so many of us hold.

One thing that is interesting, and this is a pattern that has surfaced for many years now in the Rick Hahn regime; coming to terms and avoiding arbitration basically translates into the players giving in. Never by a significant amount, but the White Sox almost always settle at slightly less than the MLBTR arbitration estimates project. Cease’s outstanding season is an outlier; Giolito, Kopech, and Ruiz (and, likely, López) all settled for less than projected.

It’s the White Sox way.

Dylan Cease

2022 salary $750,000
2023 arbitration salary estimate $5.3 million
2023 actual contract $5.7 million

Cease is taking lots and lots of loot to the bank. In addition to his significant raise, he also received $2.4 million from the first-ever pre-arbitration bonus pool (a pool created by the new labor deal agreed to in 2022).

The only thing left is for him to start growing the mustache back.

Lucas Giolito

2022 salary $7,450,000
2023 arbitration salary estimate $10.8 million
2023 actual contract $10.4 million

Things got contentious last season during the arbitration process, and thankfully the Sox avoided the bad press and negative vibes this time around. Despite a down season in 2022 from the righthander, Giolito gets quite the pay bump for 2023. It’s an all-important walk year for Giolito, and Sox given past hassles and Chicago’s reluctance to spend big, fans can pretty much get ready to watch Lucas stroll right out the door.

Reynaldo López

2022 salary $2,625,000
2023 arbitration salary estimate $3.3 million
2023 contract Not yet known

López is an integral part of the Sox bullpen, and even more so now with the loss of All-Star closer Liam Hendriks. There is some speculation that ReyLo might be one of the options to take on the closer role. The opportunity would be ideal for López, now possibly able to add big-money stats (saves, games finished) to his resume in his walk year.

Michael Kopech

2022 salary $730,000
2023 arbitration salary estimate $2.2 million
2023 contract $2,050,000

Kopech’s contract came in a bit below arbitration estimates, although still significantly higher than last year’s league minimum. Could coming off of an injury-plagued 2022 season be a factor? Yes. But the bigger factor is that the White Sox just have to win these little, meaningless battles that end up driving players away when it comes time to settle in and sign for the long term.

We haven’t heard much in terms of the health update on Kopech’s knee; here’s hoping no news is good news.

José Ruiz

2022 salary $720,000
2023 arbitration salary estimate $1 million
2023 contract $925,000

This one created some lively yet professional discussion in our staff chat today. We were divided on whether on bringing back Ruiz at all is a good move. Some felt that signing another meh reliever was fairly on par for the Sox, and having him in a bullpen that is now thinner than it was a week ago isn’t the worst thing in the world. On the other hand, some voiced concern that he’s been 10+% below average in two of his three full seasons and hasn’t shown he can pitch in high-leverage situations. Fair points made by all, and I suppose the only way we’ll know the answer is to watch it all unfold.