White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez delivered a clear message with the title of his editorial published on Thursday in Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune. He’s ready.
But what looks like a plea for a promotion is likely something more calculated by the White Sox front office and Jimenez’s people. Just like we saw with the promotion of top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, this looks like the beginning of a media blitz that will certainly end in a promotion.
In the week leading up to Kopech making his Tuesday debut, he was quoted on 670 The Score claiming that it was his goal to force the organization’s hand into promoting him. That weekend, an E:60 profile on him aired. Later that Sunday, the White Sox announced his promotion.
With Jimenez, it’s less likely you’ll hear him on the local airwaves in the coming days because he’s still working on his English. However, the Players’ Tribune piece certainly has a similar feel to Kopech’s comments about wanting a promotion.
The White Sox already know the stated intention of the story. Jimenez believes he can be a significant contributor for the Major League roster right now. But the actual purpose of the piece is to introduce Jimenez to a national audience and begin building suspense.
Jimenez spent almost the entirety of the editorial regaling stories of his baseball past — how he was hit in the head with the first pitch he faced in organized baseball and how his father saw his future in the game and decided he should give up on basketball. He further ingratiated himself with White Sox fans by showing how he’s always been connected to the city of Chicago.
In terms of facilitating a callup, Jimenez’s words aren’t doing anything that his slash line can’t. Rick Hahn knows that he’s ready. His decision is already made.
And while it’s possible that Hahn waits until the third week of 2019 to take advantage of the extra year of service time, recent history tells us that probably won’t be a consideration. The organization now has a history of trying to get long-term, relatively team-friendly deals done before arbitration.
With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Tim Anderson, the White Sox were able to avoid arbitration altogether. If Jimenez is as good as advertised, they’ll be trying to do the exact same thing, knowing that once he hits the open market a tight payroll will probably price them out of the running for his services.
So why risk doing anything that might cause friction with Jimenez and his representation, creating issues with potential contract negotiations down the road?
It all puts the histrionics of Jimenez’s post in perspective. Because even if it seems a bit weird, the Kopech debut proves that it also works.
The White Sox saw nearly 9,500 walkups for Kopech’s start on Tuesday night and the national media also got swept up in 100+ MPH fastball fervor. In a season where it’s been hard to attract eyeballs, both in person and through the tubes, that sort of pop in interest is meaningful.
It’s proof of concept in a way. Collect talent and you can bring long-jaded White Sox fans back into the fold.
And so necessitates the publicity stunt.
Sure, it’s possible that the White Sox have no intention of calling Jimenez up this season and this is a genuine plea. But the likelihood that this would work after the White Sox never flinched while facing months of scrutiny to promote him is unlikely.
Instead, it seems more likely that this was done purposefully. Eloy Jimenez’s callup to the White Sox seems imminent.