White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez is clearly ready for the big leagues.
He’s hitting .365/.406/.604 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI in 51 games at Triple-A Charlotte. Before that he hit .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBI in 53 games for Double-A Birmingham. There is clearly no one in the minors to challenge him, so the major leagues are next, right?
Not yet. The White Sox, you see, are doing what most clubs do with their top prospects: they’re manipulating his service time in order to push back his eventual free agency. Oh, they won’t say they’re doing that. They say stuff like White Sox GM Rick Hahn said to the Chicago Tribune the other day when the topic of Jimenez’s readiness for promotion came up:
Hahn said recently stats don’t tell everything about whether a player is ready, and all “boxes” need to be checked.
“While you can look at a stat line or you can look at a box score and say, ‘This guy looks like he’s doing well, looks like he’s ready,’ our checklist that we want these guys to answer is a little more lengthy than that,” Hahn said. “And not until they’ve answered all those questions we have for them at the minor-league level will we promote them.”
Saying such things — instead of telling the truth — is all an executive needs to do in order to avoid losing a grievance. Yet, Jon Heyman reports today, Jimenez may very well be doing that anyway, with his agent Paul Kinzer saying that “Eventually, you’ll probably have to add us to the list.” Meaning the list of players who have filed service time grievances, such as Kris Bryant ant Maikel Franco.
Jimenez won’t win. The current CBA makes it all but impossible for a player to win such a case unless the club does something monumentally stupid like issue a public statement saying “man, we’d love to have him on our club, but we’d really like to save some money!” Heck, even then I don’t know that a case is winnable. The standard is “bad faith” and I presume that even if an executive said something like that if, by the time a grievance got heard, he changed his tune and coughed something out about the player’s “mental preparedness” it’d carry the day.
I do know this much, though: as is usually the case, most of you will put on the front office jersey in this instance and say “hey, the White Sox are only being smart here!” Which no one can plausibly deny, given how narrow a consideration being “smart” is in this case. Very few of you, however, will make the case that this is right in a broader sense. Probably because such a case cannot be made.