For the second time in as many seasons, Eloy Jimenez will likely play less than 100 games for the Chicago White Sox. Jimenez was carted off the field after trying to leg out an infield single during White Sox’s 9-2 loss to the Twins on Saturday.
He will be out for about 6-8 weeks as the White Sox have updated us. The good news is he has a chance to return before the end of the regular season. The bad news is the White Sox will be without their 25-year-old phenom and starting left fielder for the next couple of months.
The White Sox have already taken on their fair share of injuries. Last season, they were able to navigate around them but with limited depth on the roster, that will be a tall order for the 2022 squad. Garrett Crochet, Lance Lynn, Yoan Moncada, and Lucas Giolito have already been bitten by the injury bug.
The White Sox are in the midst of their championship window. They cannot afford to throw away any opportunities. Unfortunately, Rick Hahn’s offseason moves (or lack thereof) leave the White Sox in a bind.
Michael Conforto was easily the frontrunner in free agents available to replace Eloy Jimenez. In 2017 he made the National League All-Star team after posting a .279 average to go along with 28 home runs.
However, he just underwent season-ending shoulder surgery taking him off the table. Don’t be surprised if the White Sox use an in-house solution to plug the hole.
The Chicago White Sox are going to have to go in a different direction.
With Jimenez on the shelf, fans who have been wanting to see Vaughn in the everyday lineup may get their wish. Vaughn got acclimated to left field last season and is swinging a hot bat. The 24-year-old leads the White Sox with three home runs. He is also slashing .306/.375/.611 for a .986 OPS. His fielding leaves a lot to be desired but Jimenez was no Gold Glove outfielder either.
Judging by Tony La Russa’s early lineups, it would not be surprising to see Leury Garcia out there either. Garcia has gotten off to an abysmal start to the season, hitting just .108 with a .289 OPS.
However, Tony La Russa has inserted him into 11 of the White Sox’s first 14 games. He has even batted him in the three-hole on multiple occasions. Garcia has played 120 games in left field, including 26 last season.
Former first-round pick Adam Hasely is also an option. Rick Hahn added Hasseley this offseason in a trade with the Phillies for some outfield depth. He averages 10 Defensive Runs Saved and has a 3.3 Ultimate Zone Rating while roaming the outfield.
Unfortunately, his career trajectory has him pointing towards being labeled a bust. The left-handed hitter owns a career .272/.331/.398 slash line against right-handed pitching but had a subpar .429 OPS in 2021.
Maybe the change of scenery in Chicago and more consistent playing time will do him some good. But he is a very unproven commodity and rosters with unproven commodities don’t typically win championships.
The free-agent market is scarce so significant upgrades will be hard to find. Here are three players that aren’t currently on the Major League roster that could help fill the White Sox void in left field: