The Chicago White Sox made a bold move on Wednesday signing top prospect Eloy Jimenez to an extension. Jimenez and the White Sox agreed to a six-year deal worth 43 million dollars with two added option years that could max out the deal at eight years 77 million. With the signing, the White Sox have dramatically changed their 2019 season with Opening Day one week away.
MLB insiders Jeff Passan and Hector Gomez broke the news on Wednesday afternoon as Gomez had rumored that the White Sox and Jimenez were in contract talks last week. The deal is the largest for any player that has yet to appear in a major league game. It now all but guarantees that the team will have their top prospect, and the third-ranked MLB prospect, next Thursday to start the season in Kansas City.
Without a deal, it is most likely that Jimenez would have started the season in Triple-A Charlotte with the Knight.
Although appearing ready for the majors, the team was going to hold their future power hitter down in the minors due to service time constraints. Had the team waiting until April 15th, they would have gained a seventh-year of team control instead of just six years.
The White Sox will now have a potential 30 home run hitting talent for the entire season instead of just 148 games or so. Image a situation where the team is competing for a playoff spot at the end of the season. If said playoff spot comes down to a difference of one or two games, a clutch hit by Jimenez to win one or two of the team’s first 14 games could be a deciding factor in getting the team into the playoffs.
It is not the first time the front office has made a signing like this as general manager Rick Hahn is becoming an expert at it. Hahn has signed former and current White Sox talents to extensions that have been extremely valuable and beneficial for the organization.
Former players such as Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Adam Eaton were signed to new deals that were cost efficient which led to them having higher trade values when the team traded them from prospects in 2016 and 2017. Quintana was traded to the Cubs in return for Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease. It is unlikely that the White Sox would have gotten either Cease or Jimenez without the value of Quintana cost-efficient contract.
Shortstop Tim Anderson signed a six-year $25 million before the start of the 2017 season. Last season, Anderson hit 20 home runs, 28 stolen bases, and 26 doubles.
Signing Jimenez could be very cost efficient if he lives up to his potential. Last season in both Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 75 RBIs in a combined 108 games. If he wins Rookie of the Year this year or improves in 2020, signing him to an affordable extension would be impossible.
From a marketing standpoint, it is a much needed positive for the White Sox who have had nothing but negative news this off-season. Fans will now have excitement to watch the development of Jimenez from start to finish this season. Ticket sales could be slightly better with Jimenez playing in the team’s first six home games which are all day games. The White Sox have historically struggled to draw fans to April day games due to weather and no excitement.
Wednesday was a good day for both the White Sox and Jimenez as both sides will benefit from the deal. It adds anticipation and interest for all when the team starts the season next Thursday against the Royals. For a team that has had a tough off-season with negotiating contracts, the Jimenez deal is much needed for the organization and its fan base.