A couple of weeks later, it was done.
Moncada finalized a $70 million, five-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, signing up long term for a situation he thinks will turn into a World Series championship.
"Definitely the talent we have right now is something that makes you feel really excited," Moncada said.
The Cuban third baseman gets a $4 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Nov. 15 from 2020 to 2023, and salaries of $1 million this year, $6 million in 2021, $13 million in 2022, $17 million in 2023 and $24 million in 2024.
Moncada's deal includes a $25 million team option for 2025 with a $5 million buyout. The option price can increase by a maximum of $2.5 million based on his finish in MVP voting from 2020 to 2024: $2.5 million for winning and $1.5 million for second or third.
The contract was put together relatively quickly. Moncada switched agents about a month ago, and he said his new representation started talking to the White Sox about two weeks ago.
"My agents were the first ones to ask me what I wanted to do, you know, what were my plans in the long run," Moncada said through an interpreter, "and then I told them that I wanted to stay here in this organization. Then I think they were the ones who approached the team and started all the conversation and I am very glad that this happened."
Chicago acquired the 24-year-old in the December 2016 trade that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox. Long regarded as one of baseball's top prospects, he broke out last season when he set career highs with a .315 batting average, 25 homers and 79 RBIs.
Moncada would have been eligible for salary arbitration after this season and for free agency after the 2023 season.
"It's good to have this done and then just put all my focus on the season because, like I said before, I have big plans for the season," he said. "I'm expecting to have a way better season than what I had last year."
Hoping to make the most of a painful rebuilding process, the White Sox have handed out several big deals to the prospects they accumulated during seven straight losing seasons.
Shortstop Tim Anderson agreed to a $25 million, six-year contract in March 2017. Young slugger Eloy Jimenez finalized a $43 million, six-year deal last March, and outfielder Luis Robert agreed to a $50 million, six-year pact in January. Key reliever Aaron Bummer got a $16 million, five-year contract last month that includes two club options.
"On our side, it's about extending this window as long as possible," general manager Rick Hahn said. "Having what we feel are championship-caliber players who can put us in a position to win on an annual basis here for as long as possible and providing us with some flexibility to build around them. That's the motivation for us."
Moncada made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2016. He hit 17 homers and drove in 61 runs for the White Sox two years ago, but he also struck out a major league-high 217 times in 149 games.
"The work ethic has been there. He actually has stepped it up a notch," manager Rick Renteria said. "More than anything it's just focus. He's understanding the things he needs to do in order to continue to improve. He certainly made adjustments. That was a big swing for him in terms of in particular strikeouts."
His deal includes award bonuses for MVP voting: $100,000 for first, $90,000 for second, $80,000 for third, $70,000 for fourth and $60,000 for fifth. He would get $25,000 for All-Star election and $15,000 for selection as a reserve. He also would get $100,000 for World Series MVP, $75,000 for American League Championship Series MVP, $25,000 for Gold Glove, $15,000 for Silver Slugger and $50,000 for making The Sporting News All-Star team.