Chicago White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez has torn up Minor League Baseball in 2018. But despite that, and despite the fact that Chicago’s outfield ranks as one of the least productive in MLB, Jimenez remains in the minors.
That upsets his current agents — Nelson Montes De Oca and Paul Kinzer — to a point where they’re considering action against the White Sox.
Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports cited previous examples of players filing grievances against their teams. The feeling is that the teams are prioritizing the extra year of service time above all else, notably how ready the player is. Two players who have filed grievances are Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco.
“Eventually, you’ll probably have to add us to the list,” Kinzer said, referencing Bryant and Franco, per Heyman.
Filing a grievance is one thing. Proving that the team did something wrong is a long shot. Even Kinzer is aware of this, saying “Bryant’s got a pretty good case … but they’ve been waiting on it two years,” per Heyman.
Of course, these are just allegations. General manager Rick Hahn has frequently cited a “checklist” for both Jimenez and pitcher Michael Kopech, who was not called up until late-August. Nobody within the organization has said anything to imply that service time is the issue.
But for the sake of this argument, let’s assume it is. The question now becomes, are the White Sox doing the right thing by keeping someone as good as Jimenez in the minors?
There are two schools of thought here.
One says that as good as Jimenez has been, what the team is allegedly doing is smart. Unless a long-term contract is reached earlier, a player becomes a free agent after six years of MLB service time (three under team control, three under arbitration). It therefore makes no sense to burn one of those six years in a year where the team is nowhere near playoff contention. In 2014, Bryant was more than ready to be a September call-up. But the Cubs were going nowhere. He was held in the minors and not called up until early-2015, when the Cubs were ready to compete. Makes sense, right?
The other way of thinking says that Jimenez should be called up now because he’s clearly ready. Additionally, while extending Jimenez’s time in Chicago is nice for the Sox and their fans, we’re talking about something six years down the road. If everything is done well, the Sox should be contending well before the six-year window is up (as has been the case with the Cubs and Bryant).
Again, nobody within the White Sox organization has said anything to particularly strengthen the case of Jimenez and his agents. We can look at the numbers and deduce whatever we want. But as is often the case with grievances, that’s not enough to prove anything.
Heyman also cited White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who said that “I’ve really got nothing to add to what I have already said on this numerous times. I’ll discuss it again when we make an announcement as to our plan for the remainder of the season.”
Statistically, it’s hard to argue against Jimenez being MLB ready. Between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he’s hit .341/.386/.580 with 21 home runs. In Triple-A, (where even his outs have been notable), Jimenez has hit .365/.406/.604 with 11 home runs in 51 games.