Eloy Jimenez realizes dream with contract from White Sox
Eloy Jimenez has moved back into the White Sox's major-league clubhouse at training camp.
After being optioned to Class AAA Charlotte on March 13, he was back in the starting lineup Saturday in a Cactus League game against the Dodgers, going 3-for-3 with a solo home run and walk.
While an official announcement has yet to be made, Jimenez is a lock to be in the starting lineup Thursday when the Sox open the regular season against the Royals at Kansas City.
"We are not making any announcements about the Opening Day roster today," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters at Camelback Ranch Saturday. "Today is about Eloy's long-term future. The next eight years and hopefully several more after that as part of the White Sox organization.
"I hope you understand that the decision as to the final composition of the 25-man roster impacts a lot of people, and not just the man sitting next to me. And we'd like to have those conversations face-to-face before we announce the final roster. But certainly, I know both of us are looking forward to Opening Day and Eloy getting started in his White Sox career."
After Saturday morning's news conference officially announcing Jimenez's six-year, $43 million contract -- which could balloon to eight seasons and $75 million if club options for 2025 and '26 are picked up -- the Sox sent left fielder Nicky Delmonico to Class AAA Charlotte.
That opens the door for Jimenez, who has played left this spring.
The 22-year-old outfielder's parents and younger brother Enoy were in Arizona for Saturday's news conference. In October, the White Sox signed Enoy to a minor-league deal.
Eloy Jimenez was a victim of the service time system before getting the new contract. He was not going to reach the major leagues until late April so the Sox could gain another year of contractual control.
Now, he is a few days away from making his debut with the White Sox.
"It's something I was dreaming of when I was a kid, and the dream has come true," Jimenez said. "I feel really proud and happy for this moment. This is a moment I'm never going to forget. It's just really, really good."
Hahn said giving a big contract to a player with no big-league experience is a no brainer with a talent like Jimenez.
"Obviously, the talent was first and foremost, the fact that we view him as a very important piece of what we're putting together here over the next several years," Hahn said. "He's a player who's capable of playing a very important role on multiple championship clubs. But it does extend beyond that. Throughout the years, whenever we've attempted to do this, it has always been with a player whose makeup and work ethic has been one that we trusted, one that we felt was not going to change with the security that a long-term contract brings, and one that is a potential leader.
"Eloy checks all those boxes. We view him as somebody who's going to play a very important role going forward. He has the makeup and the leadership capability and all the intangibles that make him as good a bet as you can hope for in these types of situations."