White Sox: Lost in the shuffle, Sox avoid arbitration

Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Friday was a big day for the White Sox, but while flying under the radar the team also avoided arbitration by signing Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

It was a busy end of the work week for the Chicago White Sox. The team on Friday introduced its big free-agent acquisition, closer Liam Hendricks, while the player development system was getting a signature from Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes, the top-ranked prospect in the 2020-21 COVID-extended international signing period.

But lost in the shuffle of those developments was general manager Rick Hahn getting one-year deals settled for the last two of Chicago’s arbitration-eligible players, All-Star right-hander Lucas Giolito and right-hander Reynalso Lopez, a member of the starting rotation for the last three seasons, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

This was the first time either pitcher had been eligible for arbitration and getting a deal in place for Giolito, in particular, buys the front office more time to get an extension put into place for a 26-year-old with top-of-the-rotation stuff.

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Giolito signed a one-year deal worth $4.15 million, while Lopez inked a one-year contract for $2.1 million. The team had earlier signed reliever Jace Fry (one year, $862,500), outfielder Adam Engel (one year, $1.375 million).

Third baseman Yoan Moncada could have been a first-year arbitration eligible player this season, but he bypassed that eligibility by signing a five-year, $70 million deal last March.

Last season, Giolito started 12 games, posting a 3.48 ERA and 1.037 WHIP in 72.1 innings. He struck out 97, walked 28 and surrendered eight home runs. Giolito also threw the first no-hitter by a White Sox pitcher in more than eight years when he blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 25, recording the most strikeouts in a no-hitter in team history with 13.

It was the first no-hitter for the Sox since Philip Humber‘s perfect game on April 21, 2012, on the road at the Seattle Mariners and was the 19th in franchise history overall. Mark Buehrle has the other two White Sox no-nos in the 21st century (April 18, 2007, against the Texas Rangers and a July 23, 2009, perfect game over the Tampa Bay Rays).

In the Wild-Card Series against the Oakland A’s, Giolito pitched the White Sox to a Game 1 victory, allowing just one run on two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts over seven dazzling innings.

Giolito was an All-Star in 2019, making a remarkable turnaround from his first full season in the rotation in 2018. His ERA dropped from 6.13 to 3.41 and his WHIP fell to 1.064 from an unsightly 1.477 the previous season.

He fanned 228 with just 57 walks, down from an American League-high 90 in 2018, and tied for the league lead with three complete games and two shutouts.

Lopez had had a rougher road since coming over with Giolito and Dane Dunning in the December 2016 trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

Last season, Lopez made eight starts, but was battered for a 6.49 ERA and 1.633 WHIP in 26.1 innings, walking 15, striking out 24 and giving up nine home runs. That came on the heels of a 2019 season during which his ERA was 5.38 against a 1.457 WHIP with 169 Ks and 65 walks in 184 innings. He coughed up 35 long balls.

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But the Dominican right-hander is still only 27 and already has parts of five seasons in the majors under his belt, so there is still potential there. Lopez spent a week at the team’s alternate training site last September and was left off the roster for the playoffs.