Locked in: Yoán Moncada signed a deal that could keep him with the White Sox through 2025. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)
Rejoice, White Sox fans. The front office increased the odds of a contention window expansion today. Yoán Moncada and the White Sox have agreed to an extension that could keep Moncada on the South Side through the 2025 season. Previously, Moncada was set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
South Side Hit Pen’s own James Fox really was on top of things last Monday, wasn’t he? Can’t say I’m surprised.
Ken Rosenthal was the one who officially broke the news this afternoon.
This deal will guarantee Moncada $70 million over the first five years (2020-24). When all is said and done, Moncada could earn $90 million depending on the White Sox’s decision after the 2024 season. For the first five years, the AAV will be $14 million, and if the White Sox pick up the option for 2025, the AAV will be $15 million.
Considering Moncada’s performance in 2019, this deal appears to be a bargain for the White Sox. Moncada slashed .315/.367/.548 with a 141 wRC+, putting his offensive production well above average. Moncada’s defense at third base was an improvement over what we had seen from him at second base. According to FanGraphs, Moncada was 4.3 defensive runs more valuable than an average third baseman in 2019 (had been 3.7 runs below average at second base in 2018). If we combine such strong production with the bat and the glove, we get a player who is really freaking good. Like, 5.7 fWAR in only 132 games good.
Skeptics note that 2019 was Moncada’s first year where he was clearly above league average, and his strong season at the plate was aided by a .406 BABIP. While he has yet to put up back-to-back strong seasons, Moncada’s approach at the plate was entirely different in 2018 versus 2019. In 2018, Moncada displayed a lack of aggressiveness at the plate that resulted in lots of backward K’s on the scorecard. While Moncada walked frequently (10.3%), he struck out a ton (33.4%), and when he put the ball in play, it was not particularly sharp contact (90.6 mph average exit velocity).
In 2019, however, we saw a different kind of hitter. While Moncada’s more aggressive approach resulted in less walks (7.2%), he struck out much less often (27.5%), and his average exit velocity of 92.8 mph ranked seventh in the majors. When players hit the ball hard, and they run as fast as Moncada (72nd percentile for sprint speed, per Baseball Savant), they tend to end up with a high BABIP. Sure, .406 is unsustainable, but it is not quite as crazy as many pessimists believe.
So, is Moncada going to be a 141 wRC+ player for the remainder of his contract? Probably not. But, can we count on him to be above average on a consistent basis? After last year, that seems like a safe bet. For that reason, this is an excellent extension, and it is surprising that they managed to pull this off for that price. Bravo, front office, for getting this deal done!