White Sox top prospect Luis Robert

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Sox Prioritize Long-Term Future In Robert Decision

The White Sox won't call up top prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal.

Bruce Levine
September 03, 2019 - 8:04 pm

(670 The Score) The White Sox's promotion of four players from Triple-A wasn't the headline Tuesday. Instead, it was about two future core pieces seeing their sensational seasons come to an end.

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The White Sox announced they won't call up top prospects in outfielder Luis Robert and infielder Nick Madrigal after highly productive seasons. Robert, 22, hit .328 with 32 homers, 92 RBIs, 36 steals and a 1.001 OPS in 122 games across three levels. Madrigal, 22, hit .311 with four homers, 55 RBIs, 76 runs, 35 steals and a .792 OPS in 120 games across three levels.

Both finished at Triple-A. General manager Rick Hahn cited a desire to close on that high note and keep Robert's workload in mind for not promoting him.

"Luis has already exceeded the developmental goals we set out for him in 2019," Hahn said. "So instead of adding a fourth level in a single year and further increasing the significant jump in his single-season high for games played in a year, we decided it was best to call an end to a successful season for him.

"As much fun as it would have been for us to see him in Chicago, sometimes it is our job to say enough. We are all very excited about his future and how he is positioned to play a potentially significant role for us in 2020."

Those were Hahn's words publicly. What was left unsaid was that as the gatekeepers of the organization's future, the front office also retained contract control of Robert and Madrigal for an extra season by delaying their big leaves promotions until several weeks into next April.

That's logical business, given that the White Sox aren't competing for anything this season. 

It's what the Cubs went through with star third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015, when he had a monster spring but didn't make his MLB debut until April 17. Because of that decision, the Cubs control Bryant through 2021 instead of 2020.

The White Sox would be thrilled to see their circumstance play out like the Cubs', as Bryant had an MVP season in 2016 in helping lead his team to a World Series title. 

The White Sox were headed for a similar situation with rookie outfielder Eloy Jimenez this past spring before reaching a six-year, $43-million deal that includes two club options on the back end as well. The White Sox have long made a point to sign young talent to long-term deals early in their careers, having done so with the likes of left-hander Chris Sale, left-hander Jose Quintana and outfielder Adam Eaton in a different window of contention and shortstop Tim Anderson on the current team.

That forward thinking has saved the White Sox millions and in the cases of Sale, Quintana and Eaton helped them secure hefty returns in trades.

It's worth keeping an eye on Robert's situation during the offseason. Knowing their approach, the White Sox will likely try to sign him and possibly Madrigal to a long-term deal, which could open the door for them to make the Opening Day roster.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.