Oh Boy, The Time Has Come for Eloy

On March 13th, the Chicago White Sox optioned OF phenom Eloy Jimenez to Triple-A. His sub-par showing in spring training (PA: 26; AVG: .154; OBP: .154; K: 9; HR: 1) served as an excuse for the team to send him down to the minors, at least for the beginning of the season. In actuality, the Sox simply yearned to manipulate his service time (to gain an additional year of control).

Players receive MLB service time for every day they spend on a team’s active roster and/or injured list. One year of service time equates to 172 days spent on an active roster/injured list; for reference, MLB’s regular season is 187 days long.

Tim Stebbins of NBC Sports

By demoting 22-year-old Jimenez to AAA and keeping him there for at least 15 days during the regular season, the Sox could gain an extra year (of control) on his contract without losing anything (Chicago is in the midst of rebuild and is unlikely to contend this season).

Photo: Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

9 days later (on March 22nd), the White Sox and Eloy Jimenez agreed to a contract extension. The structure of the deal is conveyed below (details and figures per Bob Nightengale)…

2019: $5 million bonus and $1 million salary

2020: $1.5 million

2021: $3.5 million

2022: $6.5 million

2023: $9.5 million

2024: $13 million

2025: $16.5 million (team option; $3 million buyout)

2026: $18.5 million (team option; $3 million buyout)

The service time manipulation is no longer pertinent, as the White Sox owe Jimenez $1 million in 2019, regardless of how many days he spends on the MLB (or AAA) roster. Though is is yet to be announced, one would expect within reason that the White Sox will call Jimenez up to the majors very soon (possibly prior to opening day — Thursday, March 28th); the RF position is seemingly his for the taking (Jon Jay would become the team’s 4th OF).

Despite the fact that Jimenez hit very poorly in spring camp, he had already proven himself to be ready for the major leagues. Here are his remarkable minor league stats from last year…

AA

  • PA: 228
  • AVG: .317
  • OBP: .368
  • HR: 10
  • K%: 17.1
    • SwStr%: 12.4
  • BB%: 7.9

AAA

  • PA: 228
  • AVG: .355 (ranked 2nd among AAA International League hitters with at least 200 PAs)
  • OBP: .399 (4th)
  • HR: 12
  • K%: 13.2 (11th)
    • SwStr%: 12.7
  • BB%: 6.1

FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections are extremely bullish on him…

  • PA: 630
  • AVG: .291
  • OBP: .340
  • HR: 30
  • K%: 19.1
  • BB%: 6.5
  • fWAR: 3.4

Here’s where those numbers would rank among other OFs (based on Depth Chart projections) in 2019…

  • PA: 20th (tied)
  • AVG: 7th (among OFs with at least 500 PAs)
  • OBP: 28th
  • HR: 12th
  • fWAR: 21st

FanGraphs’ two lead prospect experts ranked Eloy Jimenez as the 8th best prospect in all of baseball. Here’s what they had to say:

Jimenez’s body has gotten very big, very quickly, and he has had a myriad of injury issues, but he has also performed at every minor league level and has cartoonish all-fields power that plays in games because he also has good feel for contact.

Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs

If Jimenez happens to still be available in your league (Yahoo: 79% ownership; ESPN: 85% ownership), think fast and pick up this future slugger before somebody else does.

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