Chicago White Sox: It’s time to call up Eloy Jimenez

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /
Chicago White Sox Eloy Jimenez
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

As a dismal 2018 season drags on another two months for the Chicago White Sox, the team can salvage what remains of fans’ hopes by calling up Eloy Jimenez to the major league team.

The Chicago White Sox 2018 season has been one to forget. With 50 games left to play, the team has no shot at a playoff spot, but that comes as no surprise to the White Sox loyal. The biggest disappointment has been the development — or lack thereof — of key young players.

Yoan Moncada, at one point one of the top prospects in the game, has shown no improvement at the plate. In fact, in his sophomore season, Moncada’s rate statistics and plate discipline numbers have actually gotten worse.

On the pitching side of things, the promising young arms of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez have been lackluster. Giolito has posted a 6.26 ERA through 113.2 innings pitched. That’s the worst mark of all qualified MLB starters. His 12.7 percent walk rate is also the worst among that same group.

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Lopez has at least been serviceable, but his 4.47 ERA and 16.2 percent strikeout rate are less than encouraging. Lopez’s 5.18 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – a statistic on the same scale as ERA that attempts to measure a pitcher’s run prevention skill independent of their team’s fielding ability) is a more telling sign of how his 2018 campaign has gone.

General Manager Rick Hahn could smooth over some of the fans’ frustration with the dismal 2018 season by calling up Eloy’s number three ranked minor league prospect.

It’s past the point of wondering whether Jimenez is MLB-ready. His play on the field has put that question to bed.

In 53 games at the AA level this year, Jimenez slashed .317/.368/.556 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI.

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After being promoted to the AAA team on June 21, Jimenez has only gotten better. In 27 games for the Charlotte Knights, Jimenez is hitting .376/.423/.693 with 8 home runs. His walk rate has dropped just a hair, but perhaps most impressively, he’s cut his strikeout rate over 6 percentage points.

At AAA this season, Jimenez has a 211 wRC+, meaning he’s created runs at a rate two times better than the average player. For context, the best mark in MLB this season is Mike Trout‘s 190 wRC+, meaning he’s creating runs at 1.9 times the rate of an average player.

Without a doubt, Jimenez is ready to play in the major leagues.

The only rational reason for the White Sox to not call up Jimenez would be that they are going to wait the necessary few weeks into the 2019 season in order to gain an extra year of team control.

That’s the smart business move for the White Sox, but the undoubtedly wrong move for Jimenez.

Restricting Jimenez to a call-up a few weeks after the 2019 season kicks off is a selfish move and a blatant abuse of the MLB service time rules.

That’s not to say that the White Sox would be the first MLB team to do this. Most notably, the Atlanta Braves did it to Ronald Acuna at the start of this season and the Chicago Cubs did it to Kris Bryant in 2015.

An extra season of control is incredibly valuable to the team, but to Jimenez, it could irreparably damage the relationship.

Keeping Jimenez in Charlotte for a few weeks into the 2019 season and gaining the White Sox a seventh year of control will potentially cost Jimenez a lot of money by delaying his free agency and arbitration eligibility by one year each. It will undoubtedly raise questions about whether he’ll have the team’s decision in the back of his mind when he does eventually become a free agent. It may also damage other players’ feelings about the team on the South Side.

The smart move for both sides is to bring Jimenez up now and in the off-season, pursue a deal similar to what the Philadelphia Phillies gave to Scott Kingery.

As Spring Training was coming to an end, the Phillies signed Kingery to a six-year contract for a guaranteed $24 million. That deal runs through 2023 and bought out all of Kingery’s arbitration years, meaning if he performs well, the team could actually save money in the long run. Additionally, the deal includes three club options for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons in which they could choose to keep Kingery around at a rate of $13 million, $14 million, and $15 million respectively.

In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Evan Longoria to a similar deal – a six-year, $17.5 million contract – after the future face of the franchise had played just seven games at the MLB level.

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A deal like this:

  1. Allows the White Sox to control Jimenez at an affordable rate through his arbitration years and potentially gives them additional years of control if club options are included
  2. Finally gives Jimenez his well-deserved call to the show
  3. Gives fans hope in an otherwise disappointing year

This move would be a win-win-win. It’s the only option where all three sides – the White Sox, Jimenez, and the fans – all benefit right now.