In retrospect, it’s very funny that Rick Hahn belabored the possibility of certain White Sox prospects “forcing the issue” over the course of the 2018 season. Or at least that he treated it as a positive.
Eloy Jimenez tried doing it with his play, but since that hasn’t accomplished anything, his side is pressuring Hahn and the White Sox through other channels. None of it is fun.
Last week, Jimenez played good cop with a wonderfully confident Players’ Tribune cover letter. On Thursday, his agents played bad cop by going public with their gripes through Jon Heyman.
Jimenez’s representatives, Nelson Montes De Oca and Paul Kinzer, aired their grievances while publicly mulling filing one. They contend that Hahn hasn’t been forthcoming about anything specific:
Montes De Oca, referencing a late-July comment from ChiSox GM Rick Hahn about how both top prospects have a “checklist” they need to fulfill, said, “I don’t see what boxes he needs to check to be called up … except for service time.” […]
Jimenez’s main agent, Montes de Oca, suggested the White Sox haven’t explained what he needs to work on to earn a call up. That follows on Hahn’s comments in late July that both players were aware what they needed to work on.
This jibes with what Jimenez told Our Man in Charlotte Jonathan Lee:
I asked Eloy Jimenez about box checking. He's not overly concerned. @SoxMachine @FutureSox pic.twitter.com/lQulDh6Jrm
— Jonathan Lee (@followmefor3) August 1, 2018
This all traces back to the ill-fated media scrum where Hahn dropped the “checklist” quote. When pressed for specifics, Hahn gave an answer that was uncharacteristically curt and easily debunkable:
“They know what’s on the list,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you the things players can’t do.”
It seems that he hasn’t told the players things they can’t do, either, which lends credence to the idea that there’s nothing Jimenez needs to do. Chris Getz didn’t help matters, telling WSCR-AM 670 on Aug. 5 that Jimenez is “getting really close.” Jimenez has only played better since then.
Jimenez poured water all over the White Sox front office’s soundboard, basically. I wouldn’t say they’re scrambling to fix it, because a grievance may not be all that big of a threat. Kris Bryant had a pretty clear case with his, and it’s still under consideration 2½ years later. Maikel Franco’s is also in the works. It’s not clear that Jimenez would gain anything with a grievance, and his agents admit as such. Then again, Hahn sounded irked when Yolmer Sanchez and Avisail Garcia took the Sox to arbitration and won, so maybe unresolved disputes get under his skin.
Now, it’s possible that this episode, while messy, will cause no material damage through the crucial steps of the rebuild.
Service-time/ownership advocates will point out that the White Sox are allowed or incentivized to do this under the CBA, which is true to a point. They’re not allowed to act in bad faith, and Jimenez’s side needs to stand its ground against what it detects to be bad actors. And even if the White Sox’ actions are vindicated by a hearing — or if it takes forever for it to be determined — players and their agents are allowed to draw attention to cases that warrant attention during the next round of negotiations.
The Cubs have fared OK with Bryant thus far despite similar issues, which is why some fans happily point to it. Bryant probably has no plans to hang around past the initial team-control period, but then again, Scott Boras’ presence made an extension for Bryant unlikely. One can’t say the same about Jimenez’s agents, which mucks this up more.
All in all, the inelegant way the Sox have handled this is not a great sign for my low-level fear that the White Sox will be front and center of another labor stoppage that will derail the rebuild. Jerry Reinsdorf sure hasn’t changed in other ways:
Rick Renteria on Michael Kopech's haircut: "Love it. I know the owner loves it."
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) August 30, 2018
Kopech’s hair can’t grow back quickly, but Jimenez’s case can be more easily resolved with a September call-up. The problem is that we’ve seen agents get tips that a promotion is impending — remember the false start on Willy Garcia’s announcement last year — so the fact that Jimenez’s representatives have turned militant lowers the “70-30” feeling I had on Wednesday night’s podcast.
If Jimenez isn’t promoted, it’ll be hard to defend getting too ambitious with September additions. Part of what made Michael Kopech’s promotion justifiable is that the Sox couldn’t have called up anybody else for extra starts or additional length. Try creating a case for Spencer Adams over Kopech. You can’t.
If the Sox call up Ryan Cordell or Charlie Tilson while Jimenez sits, that will only make the grievance case stronger. After bringing up Welington Castillo as a third catcher and hoping Jose Abreu and Leury Garcia heal up, there aren’t really any other ways to go.
* * * * * * * * *
Long story short, everybody’s back on their bullsh-t. That includes Don Cooper, who made his annual attendance plea through Daryl Van Schouwen:
“It’s vital for us to pick up all this talent, but it’s vital to have support from our fan base,’’ Cooper said. “Players need the support. I know from the years we were winning that the fan attendance creates an electric vibe that makes the players want to elevate their focus, their commitment, their execution, their game. And it makes for a tremendous atmosphere. So the support of our fan base is critical to a team in a rebuild.
“Having crowds at our home park is the whole theory behind having a home-field advantage. There’s too many nights when there are more Boston fans, more Yankees fans, Cubs fans than our own. So we’re hoping that changes.’’
Cooper is not wrong that more home fans makes a better atmosphere, but it’s like Jim Beam getting mad at whiskey drinkers for not buying Maker’s Mark after it became known they were diluting it.
The White Sox organization doesn’t care about me, but maybe my case is similar to others: I bypassed the New York series this year, and it was an easy call. I usually catch a game in either the Bronx or Boston, but I couldn’t rationalize spending a couple hundred bucks and a full day on a product that was intentionally worse than it needed to be, especially since a shorter drive and the same amount of money can put me on a plane to Ireland.
If Cooper had a history of subtlety, perhaps you could say he’s indirectly advocating for the promotion of other exciting players to get everybody charged up. Cooper doesn’t, but maybe Lucas Giolito is the one working that angle:
Giolito: "I think that Michael [Kopech] coming up kind of got the guys excited a little bit. We’re just out there having fun, competing against each other. Who can go deeper into the game? Who can strike out more guys? It’s kind of a rivalry between us. It’s fun, it’s playful.''
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) August 31, 2018
So much eye rolling at the White Sox after reading this.
Yeah, would love to know the actual pressure exerted behind the scenes. If I was an agent I would have a hard time not sending something along the lines of:
It’s our hope that Eloy and the org deal in good faith, and a merit based call up to further Eloy’s development is the end result when the time comes, though we know that isn’t the case in these situations. In the interest of transparency, we just wanted to lay out the possible roads before us.
In one road, it becomes obvious no promotion occurs despite merit, and operations are based solely on limiting my client’s income and opportunities down the road. It is our hope this will not be the road, but we are prepared for all scenarios. Should this occur, we will not be entertaining long term contract offers from the org. When the time comes, we will file arb at the number we feel is right, and will not settle. Eloy will attend every one of his arb hearings in person. While playing in MLB will be a dream, and Eloy is excited to fulfill a lifelong dream and cannot wait to sign for young fans at the game, he will not be attending any conventions with the team. Similarly, those with the best relationships with the team may feel compelled to recruit, if we’re down this road, selling the organization to another player might be difficult, and not something he would feel comfortable doing.
Can you forge his agent’s signature and send that to Rick?
Coop’s attendance plea rings very hollow while Eloy sits in Charlotte. Maybe if the Sox bring up Eloy, there will be more Sox fans than Red Sox fans at the game. I really couldn’t tell which fans were louder yesterday, and that’s really sad. That can change with one simple call to Charlotte tomorrow morning.
Another great article, Jim. You are nailing the Sox fans frustrations right on the head.
Pissed at the Sox, but I’m also pissed at the other baseball team in Chicago and the local media praising said team for doing it with Bryant 3 years ago for making this kind of thing “acceptable”.
Maybe I’m misremembering but didn’t Reinsdorf do something similar to this to Jack McDowell about 5 years before Kris Bryant was born?
McDowell was in the majors the same year he was drafted (1987). He only played 6 minor league games.
Now that I look at it, of the 4 1st round picks from 1987-90, McDowell & Fernandez were both in the majors the same year they were drafted, while Ventura & Thomas were there at the end of their first full seasons of pro ball.
Didn’t they send him down for all of 1989 as some sort of attempt curtail his service time?
The only thing I can find about that is that he was dealing with “various injuries” in ’89. It could be that it was deliberate, but I’ve not found anything that states that.
He received minor injuries in 1993 when he and Eddie Vedder got into a brawl with bouncers at a New Orleans bar!
He also received minor injuries after Mark Whitten clocked him in 1992!
They may have asked him to cut his hair.
It’s a stupid policy, but it’s nowhere near as egregious.
There wasn’t a lot of praise. There was a ton of local and national press about how shady the Cubs were being with Bryant (and the Rockies with Gray and the As with Pomeranz). To the extent there was positive coverage is was begrudging respect from stat guys for playing hard in the margins.
There was quite a bit of praise, particularly from the Cubs future flagship station, and their affiliated newspaper guys. There’s a reason “7 is greater than 6” became a refrain in some parts.
In the end, it did not matter at all, but the Cubs did risk missing the 2015 playoffs by keeping Bryant down those two weeks. I may have/probably(?) cost them having to go to Pittsburgh instead of having the Wild Card game at home… but they won so, no one talks about it.
In the end of that season, it didn’t matter at all. At the end of Bryant’s current contract will it matter? We’ll see.
That’s a whole other matter. I think the Cubs mishandled it, but everyone ignores this because everything worked out pretty much perfectly for them in 2015. I’m not sure Chicago fans of both teams are saying “It worked with Bryant!” if the Cubs lose to the Pirates in 2015.
The end of Bryant current contract will be one year later than it otherwise would have been because of this. If you believe in hometown discounts and Santa Claus, maybe it affects their chances of resigning him as a free agent but *sotto voce* he’ll go to the team that gives him the most money
Trout is a better case. The 2012 Angels until they were 7-14 to call him up, finished 89-73, missed the postseason by four games.
Would it have mattered? He played 40 games with the big league team in 2011.
They dragged their feet trying to turn it over to another year, but the situation grew too dire.
Jason Heyward is another one. The Braves started him on Opening Day, they won the wild card that year by a game.
Since everyone is comparing what the Sox are doing with Eloy to what the Cubs did in 2014/15, then I would hope the Sox follow the rest of the Cubs model from that time. They fired Renteria and then made a huge free agent signing by getting Jon Lester and also adding Dexter Fowler.
I have no interest in signing Lester OR Fowler.
But you do have interest in Machado.
If they don’t spend money in free agency all of this is academic. We don’t have a championship caliber team waiting in the minors.
You are absolutely right.
Sounds like a similar position to mine. I’m a four hour drive to the ballpark (or a 90 minute drive to Milwaukee and a 90 minute Amtrak to Chicago); they’re going to have to give me a better reason to buy the product and attend in person than they currently do. I can watch them on MLB tv, then spend the travel time and money saved elsewhere.
If you ever drive down, can you stop at Ardy & Ed’s and bring me a gallon of Root Beer? I’ll paypal you.
You got it, sir. It IS good stuff.
2018 has been a prime season for MLB writers to state their case for all of the ways to “fix” baseball. But at the end of the day, the #1 problem is that a quarter of the league is openly tanking (or, if not tanking, at least not attempting to do everything in their power to win games). I’m not sure how you fix this, but something has to change.
That’s what the new CBA in 2021 will have to address. Jeff Passan wrote a piece yesterday outlining how far apart the owners & the players are over the new CBA. The suppression of young player wages by deliberately holding them in the minors and forestalling free agency a year, coupled with last year’s FA debacle, have brought things to a boil.
There’s a real possibility we’ll see the a players strike in a few years.
Right in the middle of a Sox championship window again!
That’s so White Sox, isn’t it? The Schleprock of MLB.
The Guardian ran an excellent piece earlier in the month on this topic. The point that they made was that baseball, unlike Premier League football, has no relegation system. Relegation is the true incentive to avoid tanking, but it does produce teams like Everton, which has never won the Premier League championship nor has it ever been relegated.
I don’t know how you would ever create a relegation system in baseball, but I agree that MLB needs to seriously reevaluate the perverse incentives for tanking.
There will likely never be a relegation system in any Big 4 sport in the US, probably never in MLS either, because the owners will fight tooth and nail against it to protect their investment.
Not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to see more research/study on the holding young players down in the minors. If Juan Soto was with the Sox, he’d still be in the minors. But he’s with the Nats, and they called him up in an attempt to win this year. So for every Eloy, there’s a Soto; for every Vlad Jr, there’s a Soroka.
Agree about everything else… this is gonna be a mess unless the owners budge a bit (and honestly, the owners a freaking gold mine with MLBAM… so for me personally, a group I have zero sympathy for, I now have negative sympathy for).
Ugh. I was all Sox happy after the Yankees win, and they had to ruin it. Just, ugh.
This is our fate as Sox fans
My sentiments exactly.
Excellent article, Jim. I particularly liked this observation: “especially since a shorter drive and the same amount of money can put me on a plane to Ireland.” The fact that a trip to see a baseball game costs as much as a flight to Europe should be deeply alarming to the lords of baseball.
That’s in part because the two teams to which Jim can drive to catch the Sox every year are basically the two most expensive tickets in the league.
Yeah, I wouldn’t say my experience is wholly representative. It’s a combination of expensive teams + tolls/train fare and an airport with a discount carrier being on the way.
They deserve the heat they’re getting. Here’s hoping we have good news tomorrow.
They are interrelated, but the “years of control” system and the draft system are hurting fans, players, and baseball in general except team’s owners.
The CBA found itself outdated the day Sabermetrics took over decision making in the GMs offices and TV deals became a big $$$ machine. GMs discovered how bad are long term deals with a heavy portion of it while free agents were in the 30s. Free agent market crashed. They also discovered how valuable is young talent as they bring more bang to the dollar and “tanking” became a profitable business model. Owners could survive low attendance thanks to TV deals, which just enticed them to tank without fear.
Baseball needs to fix this or it will spiral out of control. The balance needs to be restored. Right now it sways too much in the owners’ favor.
I think banning PEDs has hurt the FA market more than sabermetrics.
Let me rephrase this:
Banning PEDs puts even more of the risk on the player, and less on ownership.
This is a very polite yet firm message for Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn.
One of the reasons I supported a teardown in 2016 is the team needed to amass young talent for a sustained run in the future. I do like that Reinsdorf approved this plan and much of what Rick Hahn, Nick Hostetler, and Marco Paddy have done to acquire young talent is admirable.
What’s happened the last couple of years brings a measure of hope. It does not bring faith that this regime would properly handle the young talent once it matures.
Part of why I wanted a rebuild is so the club would be in good shape for new ownership when the time came, be it through inheritance a la Rocky Wirtz succeeding Bill, or through a sale (like the Reinsdorf estate selling to, well, Rocky Wirtz).
Jerry Reinsdorf’s strengths and weaknesses are well established by this point in his almost 40-year career of sports ownership. I am grateful he approved the acquisition of 20-year-old Eloy Jimenez, but am not looking forward to him determining the fate of 28-year-old Eloy Jimenez.
I guess I am all alone on this, but I prefer the seven year Eloy plan to the six year Eloy plan.
I prefer the “sign Eloy to a ten-year contract” plan if he’s any good.
That wasn’t one of the choices.
It’s always one of the choices.
No. I offered two choices. Read the fine print.
Troopers G’s mom.
“Do you want peanut butter and jelly or baloney and cheese in your lunch?
Trooper G,” pimento loaf on rye with ketchup.”
Trooper G’s mom.
“you little shit. I hate you.”
Actually, you didn’t offer two choices, you just said you prefer one possibility to another, to which I posited there is another route this can go. But yeah, keep snarking on.
You’re not alone lj.
I quit commenting on the rebuild because of the hostility any opinion I have seems to draw.
Why doesnt mlb just adopt a system similar to the nba where they can match any offer on first free agent contract that way teams wont be worried so much about service time. Teams get to keep their player if they want him bad enough and the players still get their big payday
Because ownership is not going to want to give up two (or effectively three in cases like Bryant) years of control.
Huh? I was saying if they wanna retain after initial 6 year they could could match the free agen offer to retain thus not having to worry about losing after 6/7
I think restricted free agency is generally a better system than arbitration, and might be a solution.
Definitely for the players, since it just takes one team to set the market high
So, the Sox management is complaining about lack of fans in the stands while intentionally not playing the player that Sox fans want to see the most?
Can’t imagine why this franchise is struggling.
Yeah, I almost never get mad at Don Cooper, but today, I’m mad at Don Cooper.
Here’s my thing with all this… what are we learning from anyone on the team at the moment? While I read Jim’s post, I missed the Delmonico/Palka/Davidson debate last week. And I’m throwing Avi’s name into the mix here as well.
There might be one player of that group of four that will feature in some way shape or form with the 2020 team. But the only one I can somewhat confidently say it won’t be is Avi.
So why are the Sox playing Avi at this point? He’s been hurt and bad this year. He might not even be tendered this winter, and if he is, it’s only because they can afford him as some sort of super insurance. But we’re nearing 2,500 plate appearance in the majors and Avi’s a .272/.320/.419 hitter. That’s fine, totally unexciting and flawed, but not ‘bad’. But then you factor in his poor defensive play and so he’s a below average regular. Too good to be replacement level, not good enough to be an average every day starter.
Davidson is older and while he’s shown improvement at the plate, is still flawed. Delmonico is the youngest, but has the least amount of power (probably). Palka is the most exciting, but he strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough. I’d say Palka has the highest ceiling of the four at this point. But none of them can play the field.
So what are we trying to figure out here? Who might be the DH in 2020? But even that is unlikely because if things “go to plan”, Collins is probably at first and Abreu is the DH (or a veteran free agent).
The Sox are basically messing with Eloy for what exactly? To get every cent out of Avi’s 2018 salary? To see if Delmonico could ever hit with enough power to be an average major leaguer? To see if Davidson can do it against someone not named the Kansas City Royals?
Coop has an annoying habit of piping up when his rotation is doing well. In an organization that is notorious for not accepting accountability he’s at the head of the list. He can go.
I used to be against such a sentiment. But now I can see the point. It seems like Dotson, who tutored under Coop, could be a good replacement. Especially since he knows all the young guys really well.
I think Coop is a great pitching coach, but ripping the fans at this point is really stupid.
Coop will be with the Sox as long as he wants to be.
Agreed, but that is a problem.
But, he’s good.
Let’s not blow this out of proportion. It was a pretty mild rebuke of low attendance. It’s not like Coop has any say on Eloy being called up, and FWIW Kopech DID get called up despite an identical situation.
For any of the Sox brass that were or weren’t at the game yesterday, did it bother you that the Boston fans were probably louder than the Sox fans? Do you even know why? Not that it would matter, but if they could read these posts and see that some of the most loyal Sox fans in the world are totally pissed at how they are handling Eloy and several other pieces that should be in Chicago or just got to the team (Burr), maybe they would do things differently. But then, I’m probably living in a dream world where management cares about the fans.
Red Sox fans are only surpassed by Cubs fans in not knowing how to act in the opposing team’s park.
You just insulted every Philly fan. But yeah, that’s your trifecta.
I must have missed that chapter in Ye Old Baseball Rulebook. Is it before or after the chapter on beaning players that hit home runs?
As a Blue Jays fan, I certainly feel the frustration my ChiSox buddies are going through. Seeing Vlad Jr up is the only thing that could remotely make the final month interesting.
Like the NFL, and like the way the NHL is heading, MLB would be better off paying the youngsters when they’re ready than screwing around and then having to paying them huge on the backside of their careers.
Brewers continue to love Sox’ relievers.
Cedeno to Milwaukee
I liked Cedeno, but this should give Frare a chance. Now, will Ricky use him or let him collect dust next to Burr.
Probably depends on whether or not he can get that BB/9 under control.
There’s one way to find out.
Xavier Cedeno waves farewell.
Next Fernando Tatis Jr confirmed
Not entirely frivolous question: would a year long work stoppage stop the arbitration clocks on younger players?
AFAIK, service time has been granted as part of each strike settlement.
How is Rick going to keep a straight face next spring when he tells us Eloy is not quite ready yet?
I expect that he’ll tell us that either Eloy needs to work on his changeup or spend a week improving his defense at third base.
I’ll forgive him if he signs Machado.
Really the only question beat reporters need to ask Ricks Hahn or Renteria over the next month is which boxes haven’t been checked yet?
My guess is Hahn is not going to make himself available to the media very much.
Soxfest should be very interesting.
Thing is Kinzer is a guy the Sox can work with (as opposed to Boras.) Don’t understand why they would muck this relationship up over an extra year.
Might be something from the commissioner’s side because the players have been unwilling to address pace of play. There’s a cold war going on between the players and owners currently.
This is a major blunder on the part of the Sox and every team that employs this strategy. It will come back to blow up in the owners faces. The players will certainly strike over this issue, because it is in obvious attempt to cheat them out of earnings.
There had better not be a strike in ’21.
Unfortunately, because of this screwing of the players by the owners over service time, the players only recourse may be to strike.
Relations between the players and owners are said to be at a post ’94 strike low. Just this Tuesday the players association hired a Don Fehr disciple as their chief negotiator. Things will get ugly in ’21.
’94 brings back bad memories.
I suspect this is a much smaller issue than the luxury tax for the MLBPA. The guys being screwed aren’t union members and we are just talking about adding more competition for what has turned out to be a limited pool of money for free agents. The players’ problem is that the soft cap has been pretty hard in practice and fewer teams are trying to win in any particular timeframe, driving down competition for FAs. Front offices and ownership have gotten disciplined, and there have been enough tank plan success stories to quell fanbase mutinies.
The luxury tax might not be as much of an issue if there were actually a legit salary floor teams were held to. With revenue sharing, TV deals, merchandising, and a zillion other revenue streams even the small market teams make a killing off, no team has an excuse to be under $100 million in payroll except as a blatant tank job / money hoarding.
As my aunt’s second ex-husband might have said: “Boolchit.”
That guy? I hated that guy. the third ex-husband was much more fun.
See you next year Eloy
Return looks like a couple of guys having some struggles in the Pioneer League.
19yo OF Bryan Connell and 22yo RHP Johan Dominguez.
To be fair, Dominguez only has two innings in the Pioneer League, but was pretty dominant in DSL and AZL. At 22 years old, I guess he’d better be. Connell was a first half DSL All-Star, but holy shit, look at that K rate.
Sox are blowing an opportunity here. Bring up Eloy now (and should have happened a month ago), and you get to evaluate him against big league pitchers and players and gauge just how good a player he is. If he’s a franchise-altering talent like we hope, then this offseason is a good time to start investing in veteran talents as they build toward a winner, especially given the late season strides taken by the pitching staff. With the players in the mid-minors who will be knocking on the door next year, it all starts taking shape. That they’re deliberately setting themselves back a year and taking themselves out of the big free agent sweepstakes this winter is supremely disappointing. So much for the accelerated rebuild they sold us on.
Very good analysis.
The rebuild is looking more like something that was done to set up the next CBA negotiations, just like the Sox previous allergy to big signing bonuses in the draft and international free agency. Even if they do manage to field a winning team, I hope their business strategy backfires and costs them labor peace.
I am absolutely not rooting for that. That would literally be like 1994 all over again, and we the fans are the ones that would be completely screwed by it on the South Side.
Labor strife doesn’t require a work stoppage if the owners negotiate in good faith and come to terms. It does mean that players shouldn’t agree to a bad deal just to get games played.
But yeah, seeing all this play out, I’ll take solace in the schadenfreude if the Sox cost themselves more postseason appearances by misjudging and mistiming their gamesmanship with the union. It’ll just be more obvious this time around than it was before and after ’05.
But then I’ve also almost entirely stopped watching college sports and the NFL because of the exploitation.
I’ve stopped watching sports because I refuse to keep paying for cable and streaming services black out the teams I actually want to watch.
So, this is good, right?
“he White Sox purchased the contract of right-hander Ian Hamilton from Class AAA Charlotte, the No. 16 prospect”
That puts him on the 40-man, just in time for a September call-up. He’s Bridgeport bound.
EDIT: As previously noted by Anohito, above.
Also, of course you knew what that meant, jimmy, but maybe someone somewhere didn’t, however unlikely it may seem.