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.

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

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USA TODAY

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

You can put to bed the rumors about free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly signing with the White Sox. It’s not happening.

The two sides did get together during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria met with Puig for about 90 minutes to discuss the possibility of the 29-year-old joining the White Sox as their everyday right fielder.

But instead, the White Sox chose to take a different route. That same week, they acquired Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker, ending any chance of Puig coming to the South Side.

“After our meeting we came away big Yasiel Puig fans, but he wasn’t the right fit for us then and he isn’t right now,” Williams said.

With spring training games starting this weekend and the regular season a little over a month away, fellow Cuban Jose Abreu says he’s surprised the flashy 29-year-old outfielder remains a free agent.

“Yes, I am (surprised). That’s one of those things that happen that you don’t understand. A guy with his talent. He’s still so young,” Abreu said through a translator. “He doesn’t have a team yet. It’s a surprise. I’m confident he’s going to find something this year.”

Even with Puig’s talent, Abreu looks around the White Sox clubhouse and agrees with the decision by the White Sox not to sign the former All-Star, who hit .267/.327/.458 with the Reds and Indians last season.

“I don’t think he would be a good fit here. Don’t get me wrong. He has a lot of talent, but we’re full," Abreu said. "Our outfield is looking great with Nomar (Mazara), Eloy (Jimenez) and (Luis) Robert. There’s no reason for us to make more moves in that area of our team. He’s someone who would fit in with any major league ball club because he has the talent to help any of those teams.”

What about possibly platooning Puig with Mazara in right field? On paper, that might sound like a good plan, although Puig has traditionally hit better against righties than lefties in his career. But a larger issue could be the timeshare. The idea of Puig, nicknamed “Wild Horse,” being forced to the stable for half the season could spell problems, not only for him, but the chemistry inside the clubhouse.

“It would be difficult, especially for him being an everyday player,” Abreu said about Puig being a platoon player.  “When you have to make that decision, it’s not easy.”

So, where will Puig end up?  No one knows for sure, but it won’t be with the White Sox.  

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White Sox lock up Aaron Bummer with record five-year extension

White Sox lock up Aaron Bummer with record five-year extension

PHOENIX — The White Sox have locked up a key part of their bullpen and did it in record fashion.

The team is keeping Aaron Bummer on the South Side for the next half-decade. The deal contains a pair of team options that could keep Bummer in a White Sox uniform through the 2026 season. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, it’s the biggest extension for a pre-arbitration, non-closer reliever in baseball history.

According to the team’s announcement, Bummer will receive $1 million in 2020, $2 million in 2021, $2.5 million in 2022, $3.75 million in 2023 and $5.5 million in 2024. The White Sox hold options for $7.25 million in 2025 and $7.5 million in 2026, with $1.25 million buyouts for either season.

The White Sox have good reason to want to keep 26-year-old Bummer around. He was excellent during the 2019 season, emerging as one of the team’s most reliable late-inning options. He finished the campaign with a 2.13 ERA in 58 appearances. A left-hander, he was effective against both right- and left-handed hitters, holding righties to a .188 batting average and lefties to a .178 average.

“Any time you’re looking at relievers, there’s the capacity to come in in key situations, in high-leverage and be that guy that you can count on in any situation. That’s what we have with Aaron," White Sox assistant general manager Jeremy Haber told reporters Saturday in Glendale. "In addition, the nature of the position — there’s ups and downs, and he’s experienced that in his career on and off the field, demonstrated that resiliency that you look for in that position."

Bummer will continue playing a prominent role in the White Sox ‘pen in 2020, likely starting the season as Rick Renteria’s primary eighth-inning option and forming a formidable back end of the bullpen alongside closer Alex Colome, and new addition Steve Cishek.

But with Colome slated to hit free agency after the 2020 season, it’s possible Bummer could be a candidate to take over the closer’s job.

"The reliever role and coming in in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning — it takes a certain type of temperament," Haber said. "Not to just deal with and thrive in those, but handle the ups and downs whenever they come, and Aaron’s shown that."

Add Bummer’s name to the list of young, core players the White Sox have under team control for a long time. Now there’s an exciting bullpen arm to go along with locked-up stars in the making such as Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, among the other youngsters like Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech who aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

You need a strong bullpen to compete and with their eyes on competing long into the future, the White Sox are trying to build just that for the long-term.

"Every organization seeks to acquire and develop, and retain championship-level talent," Haber said. "We’re very pleased to have been able to accomplish that today with another piece."

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