Baseball

The White Sox Need to Extend Lucas Giolito

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When the Chicago White Sox traded Adam Eaton to Washington Nationals in 2016 for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning, the collective baseball world dropped their jaws to the floor for the haul Rick Hahn got in return for an above-average outfielder. At the time of the trade, Giolito was the top prospect in the Nationals system, Lopez was ranked third, and Dunning sixth respectively. That was an astonishing haul for the outfielder, and in many eyes, the best trade Hahn made towards the rebuild. Dane Dunning would later be flipped to the Texas Rangers for Lance Lynn who signed a two-year 38 million dollar extension in July of 2021.

Fast forward to 2017 and Giolito would get his first big league action in a White Sox uniform. Giolito had appeared in the majors before with the Nationals appearing in six games and finishing 21.1 innings with a 6.75 earned-run average and a 1.781 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). 2017 would prove to be a year of growth for Giolito as he had a long stint in AAA Charlotte before joining the major league club. Giolito made 24 starts in Charlotte for the Knights finishing his minor league career. He would finish 2017 on the major league roster and never look back. As a starter for the Sox in 2017 Giolito seemed poised to burst onto the scene finishing the season with a 2.38 earned-run average over seven starts and 45.1 innings, a finish to the season the Sox were excited about for Lucas and the club meaning Lucas had found a home and the Sox had possibly found their next ace.

Derailed

Spring training came and went for Gio in 2018 and when the club broke camp, he was on the major league roster and in the rotation slotted in with James Shields, Reynaldo Lopez, Carlos Rodon, and Miguel Gonzalez. Carson Fulmer was also slotted in as a starter but there is no need to discuss that. To make a long story short, 2018 was an absolute trainwreck for Giolito finishing with a 6.13 earned-run average, and to make matters worse he gave up a major league-worst, 118 runs. Giolito would also hold the American League lead in walks giving up an astonishing 90 base-on-balls. Giolito had indeed hit rock bottom and was unequivocally the worst starter in the American League that year. Possibly the worst in all of baseball. The White Sox were left to wonder what had happened and also, now what?

Bouncing Back

While questions flew about Giolito’s development and place in the organization as they built towards being a contender, Gio did what competitors do, he went back to the basics and fought back. Giolito would spend time in the off-season with his high school coach, Ethan Katz revamping his mechanics and delivery. Also changing was the effectiveness of Giolito’s changeup with this becoming essentially a wipeout pitch for Gio. The combination of the changeup with a very effective high fastball proved to be magic for him. The result is what we often see today when Giolito takes the mound. The stare just over the brim of his glove and below the brim of his cap, laser-focused and a man on a mission. Giolito would fire 176.2 innings of great baseball in 2019 and finish the season as an All-Star with a 3.41 earned-run average and knocked his runs given up all the way down to just 67 earned. This was an outstanding bounceback from the 118 earned runs against the year prior.

Giolito has been consistent since the 2019 turnaround earning Cy Young votes in every season since. While he will have a shaky start from time to time, he is still a legitimate number one starter in the big leagues. The talent in the Sox rotation behind Gio has gotten better and better as well since 2019 and relieve some pressure from him to be great every single outing. While he continues to give the Sox everything he has every time he takes the mound, the Sox have yet to invest in an extension for him.

Sox fans everywhere are clamoring for this club to spend in free agency and go for it while the championship window seems to be open on the Southside, however, they need to sign Lucas Giolito to a long-term extension often gets forgotten. What kind of deal will Giolito be looking for? What will the Sox be willing to give him in terms of years and average annual value? All of these questions could and should be answered by spring training heading into the 2023 season. While Lucas will not be an unrestricted free agent until 2024, the Sox should try to get an extension with him done after the 2022 season.

In December of 2021, the White Sox ace spoke with Vinnie Duber of NBCSports Chicago and let folks know he was open to an extension with the White Sox for the long term. When asked about a possible extension Gio replied, “I mean, I’m open to it.” Giolito indicated he’s interested in a long-term contract and that he would love to be a “White Sox player for life.”

The White Sox should not wait any longer than after this season to get a deal done with Giolito. The last thing this team needs is a disgruntled star wondering why he is one of very few White Sox studs to not have a long-term contract while they are contending for what Rick Hahn and company hope are multiple World Series championships. Lock him up, Hahn!

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Andy is a huge White Sox fan who loves his family, baseball, and all things sports. Andy coaches youth baseball in his local community and passionately covers the White Sox for Overtime Heroics.