The offseason brought a lot of upheaval and change when it came to the future direction of the Chicago White Sox, but the team made it a point to cement one of its cornerstones into place on Tuesday when they signed infielder Tim Anderson to a six-year deal.
Anderson, who has just one year of MLB experience, adapted to the big league game quickly in his rookie season in 2016, hitting nine home runs and 30 RBI, and the team has rewarded him with a new contract that could be worth upwards of $50 million when all is said and done.
“I’m in a place where I want to be, and it’s a lot easier now,” he said. “There’s nothing like being somewhere where you want to be. This organization drafted me, and it’s been nothing but great things from them. For them to make this commitment to me is an honor and a blessing.”
The new deal will pay Anderson $25 million over the first six seasons, the most money ever given to a player with one year of big league experience. Two option years at the end of the contract could bump that number up significantly, and Anderson knows that the financial and time commitment shown by the team is an illustration of how important he is to their plans.
“It says a lot that they’re committing to me so early,” he said. “I’m definitely excited and pumped to move forward with things.”
Those young faces come as several older players went by the wayside. The White Sox fired former manager Robin Ventura after the season and hired Rick Renteria to replace him, and that was just the beginning of the rebuilding job engineered by G.M. Rick Hahn. Star pitcher Chris Sale was dealt to Boston in exchange for a boatload of prospects, including Yoan Moncada, and Adam Eaton was sent to Washington as players like Lucas Giolito made their way back to the Sox.
With so many new players around camp, Anderson is optimistic about the direction that the team is trending, and knows that he’s part of the youth movement that is being looked toward to give this team a chance at becoming competitive again.
“We have a lot of new faces, and this spring has been amazing,” he said. “To be able to get onto the field with some of the best young talent we have is an honor and I’m looking forward to achieving our ultimate goal, and that’s winning a championship here. They’re putting the pieces together to do that.”
With his new contract in place, Anderson will be looked at as a central figure on the roster, and it’s not a stretch to think about whether or not he might put too much pressure on himself. His manager, however, emphatically dismissed those concerns Wednesday.
“No,” he said.
For now though, Anderson has to focus on the little things in his game, like being more disciplined at the plate and being aggressive on the basepaths. Those things are good to work on in spring training, but there’s another thing he has to worry about: buying dinner for his teammates with his new contract.
“A ton of guys have asked about that, yeah,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve gotten a lot of jokes from a lot of teammates about that. But it’s been a lot of good stuff too. To have guys like this in your corner is great, because they’re like my brothers. I thank them a lot for their congratulations and support.”