It appears there is some good news on the South Side for a change, as Eloy Jimenez is reportedly coming to the majors earlier than expected. The White Sox locked up baseball's number three overall prospect with a six-year, $43 million contract that includes two team options at the contract's end. If both options are exercised, the deal could reach $77 million.
Jimenez was likely to begin the season in Triple A in order for the team to gain an extra year of control. MLB players remain under team control for the first six years of their career. If the player spends the first few weeks of their first MLB season in Triple A, that year does not count, giving the team an extra year of control. During this initial period of team control, players' salaries are determined through arbitration, where performance plays a huge role in how much the players make. None of the money, however, is guaranteed.
This deal appears to work well for both sides. Jimenez gets guaranteed money for his first six years of service time. The White Sox get a set figure to pay their hopeful star for the next six years and allow themselves the pleasure of not having to deal with the headache of arbitration. They also get to insert Jimenez into their lineup from day one of the 2019 season and gain an extra year of control on top of it.
It is not uncommon for teams to buy a players' arbitration years out, like the Sox just did with Jimenez. In fact, the White Sox have done it several times in recent history. They signed Tim Anderson to a six-year, $25 million deal. Future trade chips Chris Sale and Jose Quintana signed extensions in place of arbitration as well. It is uncommon, however, for a player to sign an extension like this before playing a single game in the major leagues.
Keep in mind though, Jimenez is no common player. The Sox brass and fans have sky-high hopes for him. Of all the prospects the White Sox have, Jimenez has the best chance of being a superstar. He has dominated every level he has been at. There is just one more step and it appears that step will now begin March 28 in Kansas City on Opening Day.
Now, is this too much money for someone who has yet to take an MLB at bat? If Jimenez busts, then yes, this deal will look bad. However, if Eloy is the star many expect him to be, this deal could be an absolute steal for the White Sox.
Rockies star Nolan Arenado just ended his arbitration earning days in Colorado, when he inked an eight-year, $260 million deal. Prior to the deal, here is how his arbitration earning played out:
Arenado and the Rockies had agreed in principle to a one-year, $26 million deal for the final season of his arbitration years, prior to signing the lucrative eight-year extension. Meaning over the haul of those 6 arbitration years, Arenado would earn $61.5 million. Which is far more than the $43 million the Sox gave Jimenez.
Now, Nolan Arenado is a perennial all-star and one of the best players in baseball. But, if Jimenez turns out to be the type of player Rick Hahn and company envision him to be, this could ultimately be a fair comparison. This deal could end up being a steal by today's standards, and who knows what a player of that caliber could fetch in arbitration five years down the road.
Time will tell if this deal is a good one or not. But you have to give Rick Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office some credit for showing a great deal of faith in the player they hope will one day lead the franchise to a World Series. Get excited Sox fans, the future of this franchise will be in right field for the home opener against Seattle in a few short weeks. Come out to the park and check him out, you may end up witnessing something special.