Back in the summer of 2017, the White Sox made a trade with their cross-town rivals, the Chicago Cubs. The Sox would send starting pitcher Jose Quintana to the Cubs and they would receive a package of prospects that included Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez.
Within two years, Jimenez had made his way through the Sox minor league system and was rewarded with a six-year, $43 million contract before he had ever seen a pitch in the major leagues.
In his first season, he would play 122 games and record a .828 OPS with 31 home runs. While his defense was terrible, this was good enough for fourth in the rookie of the year voting. The Covid shortened 2020 season saw more of the same as he had an .891 OPS and fourteen homers.
With the explosive nature of his first two seasons, the excitement around Jimenez was at a fever pitch entering 2021. Unfortunately, he would tear his pectoral trying to rob a home run in a spring training game causing him to miss the first three months of the season.
Upon returning, the power was evident once again as had ten home runs in 55 games. However, somewhere along the way, the power dissipated. Never was this more evident than in 2021. Before being injured once again, he had a career high 66.7 ground ball percentage.
Of course, the injuries are the biggest issue in Jimenez’s career right now. Alas, his overall skill set is perhaps more worrisome. When Eloy Jimenez is hitting home runs, he is one of the most impactful players in the entire Chicago lineup. Alas, his ground ball percentage makes his bat expendable. In fact, he has just one extra-base hit throughout his lengthy stay in Triple-A.
Another issue that Jimenez creates is redundancy. Both he and Andrew Vaughn profile as good, right-handed hitters who are terrible in the outfield. Alas, there is only one designated hitter spot which forces one of the two into the outfield and weakens the team’s defense.
When Jimenez finally returns to the White Sox, it is widely expected he will strictly be the DH as they do not want to risk further injury in the field. This creates all sorts of problems as now Vaughn, a natural first basemen, will take his spot in right field. It also prevents him and Abreu from taking days off from the field as Jimenez can only DH.
In totality, Jimenez is a fan favorite player who may not have a spot on the White Sox roster any longer. With four more years of team control, he may still have enough trade value based on his past to net the Sox a big fish at the deadline. It may be unlikely, but Chicago has proven in the past they can win without his bat.