White Sox Avoid Arbitration With Lucas Giolito

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The White Sox announced Friday that they’ve avoided arbitration with right-hander Lucas Giolito by signing him to a one-year deal worth $7.45MM. The two sides recently exchanged arbitration figures, with Giolito’s camp submitting at $7.5MM and the Sox at $7.3MM. The Sox will settle a bit north of the midpoint to avoid a hearing with their top young starter.

Giolito, 27, is in his second season of arbitration eligibility after earning $4.15MM in his first trip through the process. The Sox and Giolito discussed extension scenarios prior to the 2021 season, but Giolito reportedly turned down a four-year deal worth a guaranteed $50MM plus a fifth-year club option. In turning down the deal, Giolito bet on himself and, at least through the first year of that bet, looks to have done well.

The 2021 campaign saw Giolito post a career-best 178 2/3 innings while pitching to a 3.53 ERA with a 27.9% strikeout rate against a similarly strong 7.2% walk rate. The former first-round pick made 31 starts for the South Siders, marking the third time in four years since being traded over from the Nationals that he’s started at least 29 games. The lone exception was the shortened 2020 season, during which Giolito started a full slate of 12 games.

After a dismal first season with the ChiSox in 2018, Giolito broke out to the tune of a 3.41 ERA through 176 2/3 frames the following season. He’s largely matched that performance each year since, solidifying himself not only as Chicago’s most consistent starter but also one of the better young arms in the American League.

The jump from $4.15MM to $7.45MM represents a raise of nearly 80% for Giolito, and if he’s able to achieve a similarly sized boost next year, he could see his salary vault into the $12-13MM range in what would be his final season before free agency. At that point, assuming good health, Giolito would be poised to reach the open market in advance of his age-29 season and with nearly $25MM in arbitration earnings already in his pocket. Viewed through that lens, it’s easy to see why Giolito wasn’t swayed by the team’s $50MM offer, which could’ve kept him from reaching the market until he was set to enter his age-31 season.

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