Eloy Jimenez will be a White Sox for a long time

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GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Eloy Jimenez #74 of the Chicago White Sox poses during MLB Photo Day on February 21, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Eloy Jimenez #74 of the Chicago White Sox poses during MLB Photo Day on February 21, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /
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Eloy Jimenez was just locked up by the White Sox. He will be a White Sox for the next six years for sure and probably eight years. Was this the right move?

Eloy Jimenez has been talked about ever since he became a member of the White Sox organization in July of 2017 after the Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs. He has hit at every level of the minors. It was expected that Jimenez would be in the minor leagues for a short while to begin the season, until now. Hector Gomez was the first to report that Jimenez will be a White Sox for at least the next six years.

He is guaranteed $43 million through the first six years of this deal. The White Sox also have two team options at the back end of the contract. Jimenez is 22 years old. This deal essentially buys out his prime. The White Sox hopefully know one part of the middle of the order for the next eight years. Sox fans have been waiting on Jimenez for a long time. What is the best case scenario on this contract? What is the worst case scenario? How important is this for the future of the club?

The best case would obviously be Jimenez is the hitter the White Sox have envisioned for a long time. In this Bleacher Report article about Jimenez written by Jacob Shafer, he referenced Jimenez’s potential as “Think Aaron Judge melded with vintage Miguel Cabrera.”

That is an all-time great hitter. That’s something like Albert Pujols in his prime. That’s a man you build a lineup around. That’s a bat that the American League Central division will fear for years. That is the face of a rebuild who can dominate for years. That is a White Sox fans dream. That is the best bat the White Sox have had since prime Frank Thomas.

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If that is the player that the White Sox just locked up, hopefully, he is one of many new faces to lead the team going forward. Eloy potentially being on the roster a couple of weeks earlier does practically nothing for this year. They’re still probably the third best team in a weak AL Central. They still have plenty of pitching concerns. The offense will probably only be average in the AL.

Of course, this deal was not made for 2019. This deal was made to save the team money down the road. Arbitration? Not a concern. Signing him for his prime years when he would have hit the market in his late twenties? Not a problem.

Ideally, Jimenez will be the first prospect that truly is elite for the White Sox. Eventually to be joined by Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Gonzalez, and Micker Adolfo, or some combination of the Sox collection of minor league talent. Jimenez would be an All-Star that fills the stands. He will be a beacon of hope for a fan base starving for talent and wins.

Most of this is built on hope of course. No one truly knows what Jimenez will be in the major leagues. His .355 average and .996 OPS in Triple-A would indicate hitting major league pitching won’t be a problem. Of course, hitting in the minors doesn’t always translate to major league success.

There is always the concern of injuries with any player on a long term deal. Does Jimenez lose a season to a debilitating injury? Players have injured their wrists in the past and never been the same. This is a concern that comes with every deal though. When looking at reasons for concerns and Jimenez, it makes more sense to come up with a comparable player who failed.

Miguel Sano was at one point a top ten prospect for the Twins. He was extremely powerful (75-grade power on the 20-80 scale according to MLB Prospect watch), with a good contact skill (55 grade). Sano initially skipped Triple-A but accumulated an impressive .914 OPS in 2015 when he spent about half a season there. Sano was a very high end, powerful prospect with a solid bat. He struck out more than Jimenez has, but he also walked more often in the minors than Jimenez has.

Now, of course, Sano had some personality and professional concerns. He’s come to camp out of shape. He’s had legal issues. Hopefully, the Sox know Jimenez well enough personally to know those things won’t be a problem with him. Jimenez should be better than Sano. There have been no reported issues with Jimenez. He should be a great person in the clubhouse. Maybe he won’t be a leader, but he shouldn’t be a disruptive force either, unlike Sano. The White Sox would be truly disappointed and hampered if they signed someone that performed like Sano for this long of a deal.

Without thinking of the best and worst case scenarios, a couple of other things could happen. Maybe something in the middle will happen. Most things don’t end terribly or perfectly, more than likely Jimenez’s contract and performance will be somewhere in the middle. There’s a very good chance the White Sox just locked up a very solid major league player for about $7 million a year over the next six years.

If this happens, Sox fans will probably be a little upset. Sox fans have been promised elite production from their young players for quite some time. It hasn’t happened. There have been flashes, there have been moments, but there hasn’t been sustained success. Hopefully, Jimenez changes all of that. If Jimenez is the player that has been promised, Sox fans will have something to hang their hat on. Something to make it feel like this rebuild might actually be worth it.

So to recap, the White Sox may have just bought out the prime years of potentially one of the best hitters in the major leagues. There’s the potential they may have also just created an excellent trade chip, much the same as they had with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Adam Eaton. The worst case scenario? The Sox may have just committed over $40 million to a player who has never swung a bat against a pitcher in the major leagues. Seems to be a worthwhile gamble for a team which does not seem too intent to be active on the free agent market.

Eloy Jimenez Is About to Get Paid. dark. Next

Trading Sale, Quintana, and Eaton hurt really bad. So far, Sox fans have received little doses of Tylenol to deal with the pain. A Yoan Moncada highlight here and there. A nice string of starts from Reynaldo Lopez. Tim Anderson giving the White Sox a rare 20/20 season. A rare glimpse of Carlos Rodon looking like an ace. Jimenez can make all of these things seem like novelties. He can be exactly what this rebuild was designed for.

For the front office and the fans’ sake, Jimenez needs to be who most people think he is.

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