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Eloy Jimenez injury: Should the White Sox get aggressive in the trade of free agent market or stand pat?

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With the 2021 season just a week away, the White Sox broke the news that young slugger Eloy Jimenez had suffered a torn pectoral muscle and would miss five to six months after having surgery. It’s possible his 2021 season could already be over. At the very least, he’s set to miss an overwhelming majority of it.

Perhaps ominously — though I didn’t know it at the time, obviously, or else I’d be using my powers for the greater good — I warned just two weeks ago that the White Sox aren’t deep enough to absorb many major injuries

Now Jimenez goes down and the front office is left picking up the pieces. Where to turn from here? 

Stand pat

This is probably the most realistic option right now. They have to just suck it up, collectively, as an organization and play the hand they’ve been dealt.


First up, they’ve already said they are going to play Andrew Vaughn in left field in spring training action Friday. He is their top hitting prospect and already had a chance to make the ballclub out of spring training. Of course, there was already the caveat that he has only 37 games of regular-season, professional experience (two at Rookie Ball, 19 in Class-A and 16 in High-A). Now we throw in the tidbit that he has zero regular-season appearances in left field either in pro ball or college (he was only a first baseman or pitcher whether at Cal, the West Coast League or Cape Cod League). 

Even if Vaughn pulls off the near-miracle and holds down the everyday left field job, there’s now an open DH spot. Yasmani Grandal can do that (or play first and move Jose Abreu to DH) when he’s not catching, putting Jonathan Lucroy in the lineup. 

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If Vaughn does DH, left field comes down to some combination of Adam Engel and Leury Garcia. In the last four years, Garcia has hit .275/.310/.392, so the drop off might not be huge in average or on-base percentage but it’s crushing in slugging, possibly upwards of 200 points if Jimenez continued to progress. Engel hit well last season, but it was 93 plate appearances. Overall, he’s a career .222/.276/.343 hitter. 

Regardless, there’s now more pressure on the middle-order hitters for the White Sox and it’s even more important Luis Robert looks a lot more like the first part of 2020 and not like he did in September at the plate.  

Obviously, there are other combinations of players here who could step up, but this is a basic outline of how they can cover the Jimenez loss in filling out the lineup card. 

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Free agency 

There are some options readily available in free agency right now, though it remains to be seen if 1) there would be mutual interest in a deal and 2) it would help the team. The following four players remain unsigned, for example. 

Josh Reddick is 34 and likely still has the capability of playing above-average defense, though most of that in his career came in right field. He’s only hit .258/.318/.400 (92 OPS+) the last three seasons and is in an age-related decline. 

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Yasiel Puig didn’t play in 2020, but he had 30 doubles, 24 homers and 19 steals with a 97 OPS+ in two stops in 2019. At age 30, he’s certainly not too old. 

Ryan Braun is strongly leaning toward retirement and his ties with the Brewers run deep. Still, Milwaukee is just a highway drive away from Chicago and Braun can probably still bring the thump at times. In 2019, he hit .285 with a .505 slugging and 22 homers in 459 at-bats. 

The half-brother of Yoenis Cespedes is in the White Sox’s system, but let’s not hold our breath for big brother here. Yoenis played 38 games in 2018, zero in 2019 and eight last season — the latter in which he hit .161 with 15 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. 


It’s customary practice for veterans on minor-league spring training deals to opt out of their contracts if they aren’t on track to make the opening day roster. Jay Bruce doesn’t seem set to make the Yankees‘ roster. He’s not likely to be consistent at this point in his career, but he homered 26 times in 310 at-bats in 2019 and still displays big power against righties. 


Under the “stand pat” option, it still might eventually come to a trade for a variety of reasons. That is, the White Sox don’t make a move before the season starts and once July hits, grabbing a corner outfield big bat is a clear need. By that time, there will be more options on the trade market. 

In the very short term, though, it would be difficult to find many teams willing to deal any player that represents a clear upgrade for the White Sox. In combing the teams who would probably discuss such a deal, only a small handful come to mind. However, we can add some names to the mix because it’s possible there is a roster crunch with a player involved in said crunch being out of minor-league options. 

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If the Yankees end up keeping Bruce, it’s possible that means Mike Tauchman isn’t ticketed for the opening day roster. He’s out of options, so that means the Yankees could trade him or he could come available in free agency. He wasn’t much last season, but Tauchman hit .277/.361/.504 (127 OPS+) in 296 plate appearances in 2019. 

Remember when Aristides Aquino put himself on the map with 19 homers in 205 at-bats to close down the 2019 season? He’s also out of options and it’s possible he doesn’t make the Reds. He’s a lightning-in-a-bottle candidate. 

And let’s save the big feel-good move for last … 

Trey Mancini is only under team control with the Orioles through 2022 and it’s tough to envision them contending either this season or next. He’s only making $4.75 million this season. He slashed .291/.364/.535 (136 OPS+) with 38 doubles, 35 homers, 97 RBI and 106 runs in 2019. Last year, he was dealing with cancer. There has been no indication whatsoever that the Orioles are looking to deal Mancini — and, frankly, the PR fiasco of doing so right now probably precludes them from even considering it — but it can’t hurt for the White Sox to place a phone call and ask. Bonus: Mancini went to Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., not a far highway drive from Chicago. 

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