The overused joke this spring training was deciphering which excuse the Sox would use to keep Eloy Jimenez in the minor leagues until they could gain six full years of team control.
Jokes on us.
Eloy and his camp have agreed to a guaranteed contract worth $43 million over six years with two club option years totaling $32 million. This is a record-breaking contract for a player that has taken a grand total of zero swings at the Major League level, with only two other players having agreed to such type of deal: Jon Singleton ($10 million) and Scott Kingery ($24 million).
With this agreement, Eloy is potentially throwing away millions of dollars for more guaranteed money in the short term. Players like Mike Trout and Mookie Betts have turned in MVP-caliber seasons for their teams at a supreme discount but have also cashed in during arbitration (Mookie will earn $20 million this year). Eloy is essentially giving up that right to arbitration and two years of free agency by agreeing to this contract with the White Sox.
Hahn and company now have a very admirable track record of signing young players to long-term deals before they reach their peak of productivity. Players such as Chris Sale and Tim Anderson signed with the team before they reached their ceilings and thus saved the Sox money.
But with a record-breaking deal like this, there is also risk for the Sox because of the sheer humiliation that will come if Eloy is a bust. That may seem like a low possibility with all the hype and success Jimenez has had so far, but it happens with prospects more often than not. Byron Buxton was the uber prospect as early as 2015 but has only had moderate success with the Twins at the big league level. If Eloy churns out seasons like Buxton, which aren’t reflective of a top five prospect in baseball, this team-friendly deal will suddenly become a front office-shifting contract.