Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert needs to become a superstar

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox have struggled to get this rebuild going. Maybe I am just impatient, but Luis Robert needs to become a superstar for the rebuild to work.

The Chicago White Sox were in the running for Manny Machado this offseason but failed to lock him in. This story has been covered over and over again, but the White Sox need to be worried. Why? Because the team is putting all of its eggs in the prospect basket.

They have a team payroll $93,914,018, which is the sixth lowest payroll in baseball. One has to wonder if the team even wanted to give Machado the contract they were offering him. The highest paid player on the roster is Jose Abreu, who is making $16,000,000 this season. That salary is tied for 62nd among annual salary rankings.

With Abreu likely gone in 2020, Eloy Jimenez on his original deal and no other superstars on the team, how is this team going to turn things around in a quick rebuild? Remember, this rebuild started the day the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Red Sox in 2016. I thought it was a great trade at the time. The team received Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech in the deal.

Both players were to be part of the rebuilding core. Unfortunately, Moncada has not lived up to his hype and Kopech went down with a major injury before ever really getting started. This is the third year of the rebuild. Maybe I am being too negative, but I expected a turnaround within five years. Many things could happen in the next two, but this is why I believe Luis Robert needs to become a superstar for the five-year rebuild to work.

The Chicago White Sox shockingly paid $26 million to sign Luis Robert when he was 19 years old. I say shockingly because they do not dish out large amounts of money often. Robert started playing in a Cuban league at the age of 16. He was quickly heralded as a top prospect throughout the minors. This season, he has really started to come on strong at the plate in Single-A.

Robert has been smashing the ball for the Winston-Salem Dash in 2019. In 59 at-bats, Robert has hit four doubles, two triples and six home runs. Maybe even more impressive are his seven steals. He is slashing .475/.530/.915. Those numbers are the best of his minor-league career.

Unfortunately, like other White Sox prospects, Robert has been bit with an injury bug. Last season, Robert suffered a wrist injury that slowed down his progression to the majors. This season, he had issues with his thumb while in the Cactus League, and now he’s out again with a hand injury. If Robert continues to be fragile, his path to the Majors is going to take a much longer time.

The good news is that the injury is day-to-day, but it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his slugging numbers once he returns. His 2018 stats were not nearly as impressive as he has looked this year. Could that be because he was not healthy last season? Of course. That is the hope because when healthy, Robert looks to be everything the White Sox hoped he would be.

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During Spring Training, Robert hit .313/.313/.813 with a home run, two triples, a double and eight RBI over eight games. He is still only 21 years old. If Robert can stay healthy and progress fast enough, he should see his time come in 2020. If Robert becomes the superstar I think he needs to be, he and Eloy Jimenez could prove not signing a big-time free agent was not a big deal after all.