PHOENIX – It’s been a moment anticipated since the middle of the 2018 season as he tore through the minor leagues with his success at the plate.
With service time an issue, the White Sox didn’t call Eloy Jimenez up in August or September. Before last week, he wasn’t going to break camp with the club, with the issue of team control in the future likely keeping him in Triple-A for a few weeks.
But a surprise early contract extension took out the burden of service time consideration, so Jimenez will get his shot to be the the White Sox lineup starting with Opening Day in 2019.
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) March 27, 2019
On Tuesday, a few hours after the team’s final exhibition game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix, the White Sox officially called up Jimenez from Triple-A. He’ll be on the roster, and very likely in the starting lineup, when the team opens their season against the Royals in Kansas City on Thursday.
This is a moment in the making even before Jimenez joined the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs in July of 2017. The year before, the outfielder was selected to the MLB Futures Game, and at the time of the deal had moved up to the Cubs’ Class A-Advanced team in Myrtle Beach.
Since then, the trajectory for Jimenez has been straight up, as he rose though the system to Triple-A midway through the 2018 season. By the time the season ended, Jimenez hit a combined .337 with Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte with 22 homers and 75 RBI, with a slugging percentage of .577.
That’s a bit reason the White Sox decided to lock up Jimenez for six-years and $43 million, the biggest for any player without any service time in the majors. If all options are used, the deal could be worth up to $75 million, with a $5 million signing bonus already added on.
It cements Jimenez a major role player, if not the focal point, of the White Sox rebuild started at the end of the 2016 season. There will be plenty of pressure for the outfielder to deliver and help produce some success for the club at the major league level.
But at least Jimenez is there, and it’s a major step towards the White Sox hopes of building a championship contender.