Rozner: White Sox math equals Kopech promotion

  • White Sox manager Rick Renteria will have rookie Michael Kopech starting Tuesday night at home against Minnesota.

    White Sox manager Rick Renteria will have rookie Michael Kopech starting Tuesday night at home against Minnesota. Associated Press

  • Eloy Jimenez will be spending more time in the minors, White Sox GM Rick Hahn said Monday.

    Eloy Jimenez will be spending more time in the minors, White Sox GM Rick Hahn said Monday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/21/2018 6:19 AM

In the case of Michael Kopech, seven will not be more than six for the White Sox.

As for Eloy Jimenez, we shall see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The argument could be made -- as has been made many times in the past by organizations around the game -- that giving up a year of team control is worth it for a young starting pitcher -- as opposed to a position player -- when there is value in having him promoted to the major leagues for the last month of the season.

This way, he begins the next season having already experienced the big leagues and can hit the ground running.

There is risk, however, because it will be only the third year of a rebuild in 2019 and the argument is significant against starting his service time clock when the team is far away from winning.

Nevertheless, GM Rick Hahn made his case on a conference call Monday morning when explaining why the Sox called up Kopech to start Tuesday night against the Twins at home.

"Going back to last season when Michael finished the year at Triple-A, our hope from a development standpoint was to get him to the majors this year," Hahn said. "Putting him in the best position to reach his considerable ceiling, we felt a trip to Chicago this year would make the most sense, both from a standpoint of seeing how his stuff plays, and going into the offseason knowing how big league hitters react to his stuff, and perhaps any adjustments he may have to react to going into the 2019 season."

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Hahn also mentioned continuing to increase Kopech's innings, which topped out at 134 last year and are at 126 this year. With the minor league season ending soon, Kopech's only chance to add would be at the major league level.

Still, the Sox have given away the chance to have Kopech guaranteed for seven years instead of only six, though with their propensity for signing young players to long-term deals -- buying up years of arbitration and free agency -- Kopech would be a candidate for such a contract and would alleviate those seventh-year concerns if he is indeed what the Sox hope he will be.

"These decisions are based upon what is best for these players and the organization for the long run," Hahn said. "We felt it made the most sense to get Michael here to build off that innings base and make his debut in his age 22 season and head into this offseason with a clear focus and understanding of exactly what it takes to get big league hitters out.

"Each individual player will be similarly judged based upon what is best for them."

So seven could still be more than six for Jimenez.

"Eloy will remain in Charlotte (AAA) for this time and we'll continue to evaluate," Hahn said, "and when the time comes we'll explain the logic behind whatever decision we make with regards to the rest of his 2018 season."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Kopech move will undoubtedly please a large percentage of the fan base that wants something fun to watch in September, the same group that's also screaming for Jimenez to be here today.

But Hahn says the team can't allow any of that to enter their thinking.

"Outside noise or emotion -- or even passion or excitement to see the rebuild progress -- has nothing to do with our decision in terms of the timing of promotions," Hahn said. "We knew going back to last offseason that 2018 would be a challenging season, one in which we could not fall prey to outside influences.

"It was going to require patience and you've seen us exhibit that this season. We're gonna have to continue to do that over the coming weeks and months.

"The short-term gratification that would come from promoting high-profile players just isn't worth it when you consider the long-term benefits that come to us by showing the requisite patience that's required to put these guys in the best position to succeed."

That certainly sounds like Jimenez will have to wait. Yet, the Sox promoted Kopech now rather than waiting until a week or two into the 2019 season.

That definitely helps the player in this situation, but giving away that year of control is a very big deal.

An organization has to believe a late-season promotion is crucial to the player's development and speeds up his timeline.

The front office also has to believe that the player's timeline will match up with the rebuild, which will reach Year 5 in 2021.

And they also have to think they'll be able to get him signed long term.

The Sox did the math and the answer they found for Kopech was a promotion right now.

Math remains, as always, complicated.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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