It’s hard to write much of anything about Eloy Jimenez without getting some pangs of … well, regret isn’t really the right word, because I’m not here to re-litigate the merits of the Jose Quintana trade, which I supported at the time. It’s just that, even as I understood and accepted that trade, I was pretty open about the sadness – as a fan – that I felt in knowing I wouldn’t get to watch Jimenez come up and be a world-beater at the plate for the Cubs. It was going to be so much fun. He just had that way about him, and you knew it was coming.
Even now with the White Sox, you still know it’s coming. But he might have to wait a little while longer to show it:
Eloy’s agents displeased he’s still in triple a, might consider grievance https://t.co/Eqccud1LXO
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 30, 2018
Jimenez, 21, is putting up hilarious numbers at AAA after putting up hilarious numbers at AA. There’s very little reason to doubt that he would be an additive big league player right now. Were he in another organization, at another stage in the competitive cycle, he’d be up. There’s no question about that, whatever the White Sox say publicly.
Of course, the flip side of that is that there is nothing new going on here. Teams for years and years have tried to maximize team control over young stars where they can do so without harming their own competitiveness in years when they’re trying to win. That doesn’t make it a good thing to do, but it is the way it is. Cubs fans can’t act like this wasn’t a consideration in the timing of the promotion of many of their young stars.
To that end, Heyman notes that if Jimenez does go the grievance route, he’ll join the likes of Kris Bryant, whose grievance against the Cubs for his delayed call-up in 2015 is still lingering out there (taking years to resolve these things is not uncommon, because other service time issues could pop up in the interim, or contract negotiations, or a settlement, or a CBA change, etc. – none of that has happened in Bryant’s case).*
It’s a tough situation for a young would-be star to be in, knowing you can compete and knowing that if you were in another organization, you’d be up already. It costs you in more ways than just the wallet, but obviously it can have a huge impact there, too. I have no problem with players pushing for the opportunities (and, thus, earnings) they deserve.
And it’s a tricky situation for teams that are playing within the rules and have – by the CBA – such a strong incentive to delay the debut of these caliber of talents. As long as there’s a cut-off for service time and free agency, teams will eyeball it.
Presumably, if the White Sox aren’t going to bring up Jimenez in September, then they’ll also hold him down for a couple weeks to start next season, thus ensuring the extra year of control. Man, the calls for action and saber-rattling are going to be loud then (and get ready to hear a whole lot about the Cubs and Kris Bryant at that time – you’ve been warned).
*It is still theoretically possible that Bryant could win free agency after the 2020 season instead of 2021, though that would ultimately require proving that the Cubs acted in bad faith not promoting him out of Spring Training – a tall task given that Bryant was ultimately promoted only after the Cubs suffered two concurrent early-season injuries at third base.