Eloy Jimenez Signs Six Year Extension with White Sox
Well folks, it is now official: Eloy Jimenez, the No. 3 prospect in baseball (No. 1 in the BovHahn rankings), has agreed to a six year contract extension with the Chicago White Sox.
At first glance, the six years and $43 million the Sox gave Eloy may not seem like a huge contract in terms of numbers, but this contract is historic for two main reasons. First, this is the largest contract ever given to a player before they have played a game in the majors. Before this, we had Jon Singleton getting 5 years, $10MM from the Astros in 2014 and Scott Kingery getting 6 years, $24MM last year from the Phillies. The Eloy deal obviously blows these both out of the water. This is a ton of money to give to someone yet to appear in the majors, especially given that with options it could run up to 8 years and approximately $75MM. Whil Eloy is about as sure thing of a prospect as there is, this is still a historic investment in a prospect.
The point I want to focus on, however, is how this deal is historic to the White Sox. No, not because they’re locking up a young player to a long term deal. They’ve done this plenty before – think Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Tim Anderson, Jose Quintana. In fact, this is probably their greatest strength as a front office, convincing young talent to sign for relatively team friendly, long term deals, that are steals if the player pans out. God knows their strength isn’t ponying up the dollars for premium talent.
The craziest thing about this contract is the fact that this is THE LARGEST CONTRACT THE WHITE SOX HAVE EVER GIVEN OUT. Ever. To a guy who hasn’t played in the majors before and is 22 years old. Sure, the Eloy deal will only surpass Jose Abreu’s 6 year $68MM deal if the options are picked up, but let’s assume that happens. I’m an optimist when it comes to the Sox after all.
Now, I’m not saying that this extension with Eloy is a bad deal. I’m on the opposite side of the fence. I think it’s a great deal – if Eloy meets the hype, the Sox have a generational player under contract through his age 30 season. If he doesn’t? They have only $43 million tied up in a player who really has an absolute floor of a solid starting outfield, and they walk away after six years and aren’t paying break the bank money.
And for Eloy, he gets contract security and gets more money in his pre-free agency years. And, he’s still in line to be a free agent by 30. If he is what we all think he’ll be, that’s still an age where he should be able to cash in on a solid contract.
And, not to mention the whole service time deal. With that off the table, Eloy should be starting on March 28th in Kansas City on Opening Day. If he’s not, this organization is even more backwards than I thought. Holding down the player who likely will be their best position player this season for no reason other than working on “defense” or something like that after taking the service time requirements for an extra year off the table would be the icing on the cake for a horrific offseason. No disrespect to anyone, but if I see a starting outfield of Engel-Jay-Leury on Opening Day I’m gonna vomit.
Now back to the money. Let’s not forget, this is where the Sox choose to spend the most money they’ve ever spent. Hoping to catch a bargain on a superstar level player, not cashing in on certified talent when it’s available to supplement players like Eloy. Sure, they can use this contract as proof they aren’t cheap, or whatever they want to say for damage control after not giving Manny or Bryce a seriously contending offer. But when it boils down to it, the fact that it is the year of our lord two thousand and nineteen and the White Sox’ largest contract ever is $75 million for a guy who has never played a major league game is an indictment of the front office. Sure, we have Eloy long term now, but it won’t matter if we can’t surround him with other premium talent in the coming years. Especially when we couldn’t strike this offseason and now guys like Arenado, Sale, Bregman, Trout, etc. are off the table the next few offseasons. Welcome to Chicago, Alex Gordon.
Like I said, I like this deal a lot, it was a smart move. My concern is if we’re not willing to spend elsewhere, is Eloy going to be the next Chris Sale, a generational talent we can’t build around so we have to jettison him off for a prospect haul while he is under this team friendly deal. If so, this rebuild may never end.
But I digress. We’re under a week from Opening Day, when the season starts we’ll have some distractions from this offseason from hell. And, God willing, we’ll be able to watch E-Bombs like these starting March 28th and for the next 8 years. Ride with us or get run over.