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Back in spring training shortly after Eloy Jiménez was optioned to the minors, Dominican reporter Héctor Gómez said that Jiménez was in the process of hammering out an eight-year extension worth up to $100 million. The rumor sat out there before a day before Ken Rosenthal shot it down for being “inaccurate and unrealistic.”
Five days later, Gómez resurfaced the report with a revision — still eight years, but down to $65 million or so, and $75 million to $80 million with incentives. This time, the American press didn’t refute the report, but instead corroborated the deal with additional details within the hour. The guaranteed number of years and dollars fell further when it became official, but Gómez was ultimately vindicated for his going out on a limb (and it appeared that his information aligned with the contract’s max value).
That sequence from March is what comes to mind when trying to make sense of this Marcell Ozuna story, which also comes from Dominican media, albeit from a different reporter. Frank Castillo is the source, and Gomez, his colleague, circulated it to his English-speaking audience.
Castillo’s report from Saturday, which said Ozuna would be traveling to the United States on Sunday to sign with the White Sox today, has already been shot down by American reporters like Bruce Levine and Jon Heyman. To their credit, there’s at least one hole in the story. Here’s ESPN reporter Enrique Rojas talking to Ozuna at a baseball charity event in Santo Domingo Sunday evening:
That tweet translates to “Marcell Ozuna in Santo Domingo with the shirt he wants to continue wearing.”
So it’s entirely possible that Castillo has bad information, or at least incomplete information that can one or two news cycles can render outdated. However, if the Jiménez story stands as a precedent of sorts, there’s a non-negligible chance that Castillo has the general gist of the story correct, but maybe it’s just a little too aggressive on specifics, and thus is easier for the team to shoot down without straight-up lying.
If nothing else, it’s fun to see the White Sox back in a position of adding talent to the point that we have to translate tweets from reporters with whom we haven’t been acquainted. Hot stove season is back, baby!
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Speaking of reports from the Dominican Republic, Ben Badler recently published his review of the recent crop of White Sox international signings at Baseball America.
Yolbert Sanchez is still the high-floor/low-ceiling prospect he was reported to be prior to July 2, with no loud tools but a decent set of skills as long as his shortstop glove can lead the way. The reports on Elijah Tatis and Wilfred Veras are more enlightening — Tatis as a terrific athlete who shows feel at shortstop but needs reps in all senses, and Veras as a potential power-hitting third baseman.
But I was happiest that Badler circled back to Benyamin Bailey, who demanded that we pay attention to him with his performance in the Dominican Summer League. The 17-year-old Bailey emerged from obscurity to hit .324/.477/.454 with 52 walks to 40 strikeouts over 55 games, and Badler has filled in a few details.
Prior to July 2 during the end of the 2018-19 signing period, the White Sox came away with one of the more promising sleepers of the class in Benyamin Bailey, a Panamanian outfielder they gave $35,000 in April. Bailey went to the DSL and immediately raked as a 17-year-old, leading the league in OBP by hitting .324/.477/.454 with more walks (52) than strikeouts (40) in 55 games. Bailey, who turned 18 in September, is a physical monster at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and a power/speed threat, with both tools grading out above-average. At his size, Bailey’s swing will probably always have some length, but he’s a patient hitter with a good eye for the strike zone, which helped him hit immediately when he got to the DSL and faced better pitching than he was used to seeing in Panama. He’s a corner outfielder who moves well for his size, though he will probably down as he gets older.