All's well that ends well: Jimenez, White Sox agree on long-term contract
Eloy Jimenez is effortlessly affable, but one subject was draining all of the enthusiasm out of the young outfielder the past six months.
Long aware he's one of the White Sox's top hitters at any level, Jimenez went so far as to put it down on paper last August.
In a story he wrote for the Players' Tribune under the not-so-subtle headline: "I'm Ready," Jimenez stated his case for joining the Sox's expanded September roster.
The call never came, ostensibly because he needed defensive polish. In reality, Jimenez was just another young victim of major-league baseball's service time system.
When asked about being left behind, Jimenez's ever-present smile would turn to a frown.
"It's not my decision," he said at SoxFest in January. "If they made that decision, I'm going to accept it and I'm going to play hard when I get there."
When Jimenez reported to spring training in February, he stuck to the script.
"That was last year," he said. "I was pretty (disappointed). But this year has not started. I'm going to step in and keep doing all I can do."
Last Wednesday, the Sox optioned Jimenez back to Class AAA Charlotte and figured to call him up in late April to get an extra year of contractual control.
There is no longer a need to delay the inevitable.
Earlier this week, news broke that Jimenez and the White Sox agreed to a long-term contract. It became a reality on Friday.
In the largest contract in baseball history for a player with no major-league experience, the Sox and Jimenez agreed to a six-year, $43 million contract. The deal also includes two club option years.
"My family and I are very happy and excited to sign this deal," Jimenez said in a statement. "It gives us the opportunity to ensure our future, but more importantly, to reinforce my commitment to the White Sox organization. All of my effort, focus and desire is to help this team win multiples championships and bring joy to our fan base."
Under terms of the contract, Jimenez gets a $5 million bonus in addition to $1 million this season, $1.5 million next year, $3.5 million in 2021, $6.5 million in '22, $9.5 million in '23 and $13 million in '24.
The White Sox hold options for $16.5 million in 2025 and $18.5 million in '26, with $3 million buyouts for either season.
"Eloy is a tremendously talented young player who has impressed us with his baseball skills, poise and maturity from the moment he joined the White Sox organization," said general manager Rick Hahn, who acquired Jimenez and top pitching prospect Dylan Cease in a 2017 trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs. "We view him as an important member of the core we are building over the coming years."
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Jimenez is a career .311/.359/.519 hitter with 108 doubles, 65 home runs and 281 RBI in 408 games over five minor-league seasons with the Sox and Cubs.
Will Jimenez be on the White Sox's 25-man roster when the season opens Thursday at Kansas City? Hahn will likely answer that question when he meets with reporters Monday morning in Arizona.