Jimenez: 'Dream's come true' with 6-year deal

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox think Eloy Jimenez is going to be a big-time slugger.

They are so sure they gave the young outfielder a record-breaking deal.

The 22-year-old Jimenez is looking forward to the upcoming season after finalizing a $43 million, six-year contract with Chicago, nearly double the amount of the previous high for a player under club control yet to make his major league debut.

"It's something I was dreaming when I was a kid," Jimenez said Saturday at Camelback Ranch. "The dream's come true and I feel really proud and happy for this moment. This is a moment I'm never gonna forget."

Jimenez celebrated with three hits in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a solo drive for his second spring homer.

The agreement announced Friday includes team options for 2025 and 2026 that if exercised would raise the total to $75 million over eight years.

Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 13. If he stays in the minors for the first 20 days of the season, it would push back his free-agent eligibility by one year until after the 2025 season. If either of the contract options is declined, he would be eligible for either salary arbitration or free agency based on whether he has six years of major league service at that point.

Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs during the 2017 season. Jimenez hit .337 with 22 homers and 75 RBI at Double-A and Triple-A last season.

"Both of us are looking forward to opening day and Eloy getting started in his White Sox career," general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's a very happy day for us in the organization."

Hahn referenced Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale as previous White Sox players who earned multiyear contracts early in their careers. He said Jimenez's talent is the biggest reason for his unusual deal, but there were other factors.

"It does extend beyond that," Hahn said. "Whenever we have attempted to do this, it has always been with a player whose makeup and work ethic we trusted, one that we felt was not going to change with the security that a long-term contract brings, one that ideally is a potential leader in that clubhouse."

Jimenez was batting .154 with two doubles and a home run in Cactus League play when he was sent down the minors. He later admitted he was pressing in his bid to make the major league roster.

Jimenez, joined in Arizona by his parents and his brother Enoy -- an infielder in the White Sox organization -- is one of the majors' best prospects. Hahn stressed that the contract is about the future of the rebuilding White Sox, who went 62-100 last year in their sixth consecutive losing season.

"There's going to be ups and downs over the course of the next several months," Hahn said of Jimenez's upcoming rookie season. "This is about the long term, not about just the next few weeks or how the major league debut goes."

Jimenez isn't worrying about it now.

"I'm gonna handle it, because I'm not gonna put pressure on me," he said. "I'm going to play hard."