White Sox

Eloy Jimenez's agents sound off on service time as White Sox top prospect remains in minor leagues

Eloy Jimenez's agents sound off on service time as White Sox top prospect remains in minor leagues

Eloy Jimenez is still not a major leaguer, and that has a couple people rather upset.

Jimenez’s agents sounded off in a piece written by FanCred’s Jon Heyman, directing ire at the White Sox for not yet promoting their top-ranked prospect to the major league roster, insisting the only reason Jimenez isn’t currently playing on the South Side is because the team is angling for an extra year of control.

“How can you say with a straight face this guy needs to work on anything?” said Paul Kinzer, the president of the agency that represents Jimenez, to Heyman. “What’s he need to work on?”

All season long, the discussion around Jimenez has focused on one question: When will he join the big league squad? He was stellar last season after coming over with Dylan Cease in the Crosstown swap that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, and in 2018, Jimenez has only generated more excitement over what kind of slugger he’ll be once he puts on a White Sox uniform for good.

He slashed .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 56 games at Double-A Birmingham, earning a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte, where he’s slashing .365/.406/.604 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 51 games. Jimenez has been especially hot of late, slashing .400/.426/.508 in his last 16 games.

Of course, as general manager Rick Hahn has often said this season, there’s plenty to do with a player’s development that doesn’t show up in the box score, and no one knows which developmental milestones the White Sox front office is waiting to see from Jimenez besides the White Sox front office.

Jimenez’s agents, however, aren’t buying the logic that there's more for Jimenez to show.

“I don’t see what boxes he needs to check to be called up,” Jimenez’s agent Nelson Montes De Oca told Heyman, “except for service time.”

Service time has been a popular talking point in recent months as the vocal White Sox fans on social media seemed to flip a switch, going from arguing that Jimenez belongs in the big leagues now to arguing that waiting until the early weeks of next season makes the most sense, starting the clock a year later and adding a year of team control to the end of Jimenez’s contract. For a White Sox team that’s planning on long-term success — and one that might've seen its timetable altered, however slightly, by a slew of minor league injuries this season — that isn’t a bad argument.

But agents are obviously not proponents of that strategy, one that delays the next big contract.

The game’s most well-known agent, Scott Boras, had plenty of negative things to say about the Cubs when they seemed to use the same strategy in dealing with Kris Bryant back in 2015. Bryant tore it up in the minors a year earlier but wasn’t promoted. A couple weeks into the 2015 campaign — once the extra year was attainable — he was on the major league roster and ended up the National League Rookie of the Year.

For the teams, they're playing within the rules of the system. Agents don’t like those rules. Bryant filed a grievance over that delay, and Jimenez’s agents told Heyman they won’t rule out Jimenez filing one, when the time comes.

The White Sox have insisted the issue of service time isn’t what they’re thinking about, with Hahn talking about Jimenez and other top prospects — such as the recently promoted Michael Kopech — in strictly baseball terms. The team’s decision to promote Kopech last week could be perceived as a validation of that talk. After all, wouldn’t a team with a win-loss record like the White Sox, a team angling for years of sustained contention at the end of this rebuilding effort, want an extra year of control with Kopech, too? But they opted to move him to the majors when they felt he was ready.

In his dealings with the media since the offseason, Jimenez has talked about his readiness though repeatedly said that he understood the decision was not his and that he’d do whatever the White Sox wanted. Then came his piece in the Players’ Tribune titled “I’m Ready,” in which he wrote: “Am I ready for the big leagues? I’m beyond ready. I’ve been waiting to play pro ball in Chicago since I was 11 years old.”

Strong words from both player and agents. The decision, though, is the White Sox to make, and as Hahn has said about every decision he’s made since this rebuild got started, it will be made with the best long-term interest of the team in mind.

In midst of no-hit bid, Reynaldo Lopez leaves game with dehydration and flu-like symptoms

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USA TODAY

In midst of no-hit bid, Reynaldo Lopez leaves game with dehydration and flu-like symptoms

Reynaldo Lopez might have thrown a no-hitter Sunday. But his body had other plans.

The White Sox pitcher completed five no-hit innings against the Texas Rangers before departing, suffering from dehydration and flu-like symptoms.

Though Lopez surely isn't feeling good about that, White Sox Twitter breathed a sigh of relief when the team provided that update in the seventh inning. Fans speculated something worse might have been bothering Lopez after he was removed in the middle of such a successful outing with just 80 pitches thrown.

Lopez finished his start with no runs and no hits allowed, six strikeouts, a pair of walks and a hit batter. The five scoreless innings dropped his second-half ERA to 2.82. His season ERA sits at 5.08.

Though Lopez left the game, ending his no-hit bid, the White Sox still had a shot at a combined no-hitter. But that dream died quickly, as the first batter Aaron Bummer faced in the top of the sixth singled.

What this might mean for Lopez's next scheduled turn in the rotation remains unknown. The White Sox will throw Lucas Giolito, Ross Detwiler and Dylan Cease in the three-game set against the Minnesota Twins next week. They then travel to take on the Atlanta Braves next weekend.

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In reaching 1,000 hits, Jose Abreu shows why he's this generation's Mr. White Sox

In reaching 1,000 hits, Jose Abreu shows why he's this generation's Mr. White Sox

It hasn't been difficult to figure out why Jose Abreu wants to be a part of the White Sox moving forward. He keeps telling us.

Repeated declarations of love for the organization, excitement over the rebuilding team's future and promises that he'll sign himself to a contract if the front office doesn't do it first, it's all been freely flowing from Abreu's mouth — always through team interpreter Billy Russo, of course — throughout the 2019 season.

It's worth noting, too, that the 2019 season is Abreu's sixth with the White Sox. The team has had a losing record in every one of them. But the win-loss records haven't had any kind of impact on Abreu's opinion of the organization that signed him out of Cuba ahead of the 2014 campaign.

Saturday night, Abreu reached a milestone, picking up his 1,000th career hit in the first inning. He got an ovation from the fans in the stands and the players in the third-base dugout. A special graphic flashed on the scoreboard.

The organization saluted one of its favorite sons. And after the game, he returned the favor, adding a line that might have shed some more light on why he's been so willing to state his desire to stay on the South Side forever.

"I’m very grateful with Jerry (Reinsdorf), with Kenny (Williams), with Rick Hahn, with Marco Paddy, with all the people that made this possible," he said, through Russo. "It’s not just for the money, but they made my mom’s dreams come true.

"It’s not about the money. It’s about the dream and to be able to get to this point in my career."

Now you might understand why he might not seem to care about "leverage" in any upcoming contract negotiations.

Abreu loves the White Sox, as he's repeatedly stated. And the White Sox love him right back. Their constant praise is not only directed at his production on the field, which has been outstanding since he came to the United States. He's one of three players ever — with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — to start his major league career with four seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. While certain rate stats have taken a dip in 2019, he's on pace to set a new career high in RBIs and is eight homers away from matching his career best in that category, too.

If the season ended today, he'd have a career-worst on-base percentage, but that number is climbing thanks to a red-hot August. He came into Saturday night's game slashing .337/.382/.609 on the month, and then he added a pair of hits in the loss to the Texas Rangers.

But while all that production is great, the White Sox are equally enamored with Abreu's contributions off the field. He's a role model for and a mentor to young players, specifically guys like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and, eventually, Luis Robert, who are expected to make up the core of the next contending White Sox team.

Abreu will likely be there, too, as all the above illustrates — not to mention a supposed assurance from Reinsdorf that he'll never wear another uniform.

Those young players have happily taken Abreu's guidance. Jimenez has said he's been like a father. It's not a stretch to assume that Abreu's work ethic rubbed off on Moncada, who took it upon himself to go to work this offseason and transform his fortunes from a season ago.

Abreu, in another textbook example of why this guy is so gosh darn beloved, said that results like 1,000 big league hits do make it easier to get through to his young teammates but it's not the most important thing.

"The results makes the trust easier. It makes it easier for them to believe in what you are telling them," Abreu said. "But what is most important is just for them to realize you are a good human being.

"When you are a good human being, the people around you are going to identify that and they are going to take whatever you said and the advice you are going to give them in a good way.

"That was just the way I was raised by my parents and that’s the way I have always tried to be."

There's a reason, a lot of them, actually, that the White Sox seem to hold Abreu in the same esteem as players who have their jersey numbers retired and have statues at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Those who made the laughable suggestion that the White Sox should have traded Abreu at the deadline with plans of re-signing him in the offseason seemed to miss that. Would they have made the same suggestion about Paul Konerko? Or Mark Buehrle?

Every generation has its "Mr. White Sox." Abreu has earned that title for this generation.

Ivan Nova said it best: "He's the franchise player."

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