The White Sox appear likely to be among the most active teams on the trade market this offseason. On the heels of a 101-loss campaign that spurred a change in front office leadership, freshly-minted GM Chris Getz has made clear that the club is operating with no untouchables this offseason, a stance the club backed up by dealing left-hander Aaron Bummer to the Braves last week in a six-player deal. While right-hander Dylan Cease figures to garner plenty of attention as a potential trade chip, he was far from the only player hailing from the south side of Chicago to land on MLBTR’s list of the top 25 offseason trade candidates. Cease clocked in at #6 on that list, but just a few spots lower at #12 is slugger Eloy Jimenez, who the club acquired alongside Cease in the deal that sent Jose Quintana to the north side back in 2017.
Getz has made no secret of the fact that Jimenez is available this offseason, noting publicly that teams are interested in his services while adding that “it just has to make sense for both sides” in order for a deal to come together this winter. While Jimenez once looked to be a potential franchise cornerstone in left field, his star has dimmed in recent years due to injuries and under-performance. Since the start of the 2021 season, Jimenez has appeared in just 259 games between multiple hamstring issues and an appendectomy. That translates to just 53.3% of the Chicago’s regular season contests over that span.
When Jimenez has managed to take the field, he’s alternated flashes of greatness with relative mediocrity; though he posted strong numbers in the shortened 2020 campaign and in his 84-game 2022 season, with wRC+ figures of 138 and 143 respectively, Jimenez’s performance in both 2021 and 2023 was far more pedestrian. 2023, in particular, saw Jimenez slash just .272/.317/.441 (105 wRC+) with 18 homers in 489 trips to the plate. While those numbers are decent, they’re a far cry from what you’d expect from a player best suited as a full-time DH who is guaranteed $16MM in 2024 between a $13MM salary and a $3MM buyout on a 2024 club option.
In spite of Jimenez’s flaws, however, there’s plenty of reason for rival clubs to have interest in his services. After all, the 2022 season showed what a threat he can be at the plate when he’s right, as he hit .295 and crushed 16 homers in just 327 plate appearances all while walking at a respectable 8.6% clip. If a club manages to get Jimenez back on track, they’d have a All Star caliber slugger under relatively affordable team control for three seasons; Jimenez’s contract includes a pair of club options for the 2024 and 2025 campaigns, valued at $16.5MM and $18.5MM respectively. Jimenez also has youth on his side, as he’ll play next season at age-27 after celebrating his birthday next week.
So, which teams could make sense as potential partners for the White Sox in a Jimenez trade? The Royals, Twins, Guardians, and Tigers are all fairly easy to eliminate due to the rarity of in-division deals involving players of Jimenez’s magnitude. The Rockies, A’s, Nationals, and Pirates are all fairly unlikely to compete in 2024, while the Yankees, Giants and Phillies are all relatively set at DH heading into next season. The Padres, Rays, Reds, Cardinals and Orioles all figure to focus more on adding pitching rather than stacking up additional bats this offseason. The Blue Jays, Cubs and Astros all appear more likely to target left-handed additions to the lineup than a righty slugger like Jimenez, to say nothing of the questionable optics of dealing Jimenez back to the north side. A look at each of the other ten teams…
- Diamondbacks: The reigning NL champions figure to attempt to improve upon their 84-win campaign in 2023, and have already added Eugenio Suarez at the hot corner in pursuit of that goal. While Suarez and Christian Walker give them some much-needed thump from the right-hand side, Arizona still has a clear vacancy at DH that Jimenez would be a solid option to fill. Meanwhile, the Snakes are deep in young, affordable players like Jake McCarthy and Dominic Fletcher who could be of interest to a White Sox club looking for upgrades in virtually all areas of the roster.
- Mariners: Seattle’s lineup took a hit in the aforementioned Suarez deal and the addition of Jimenez, who could slide into the DH slot vacated by the recently non-tendered Mike Ford, could help to return some thump to the club’s lineup. While Jimenez profiles best as a DH, he could also theoretically chip in on occasion in left field, where the Mariners currently lack a permanent solution and figure to rely on the likes of Cade Marlowe, Sam Haggerty, and Dylan Moore. While Seattle’s young arms are likely too valuable to deal for Jimenez, it’s possible the White Sox could target a post-hype youngster like Taylor Trammell in a deal with the Mariners.
- Marlins: Miami is among the best fits for Jimenez, as evidenced by their interest in his services at this year’s trade deadline. With righty slugger Jorge Soler having departed the club in favor of free agency, the addition of Jimenez would fill the void left by Soler at a price point not far above the $12MM AAV Soler would’ve been on the books for in 2024 had he not opted out of his deal. In exchange, the Sox could look to add one of Miami’s many young infielders without a clear path to playing time such as Jacob Amaya, Jordan Groshans, or Xavier Edwards.
Next Tier Down:
- Angels: While the Angels are surely going to make every effort to retain franchise face Shohei Ohtani, the expectation around the league is that he will depart for another club this offseason. Should that reality come to pass, Jimenez could make sense as a replacement DH should the club have hopes of contending in 2024 without Ohtani on the team. That being said, the Halos already largely emptied out their farm system over the summer in a failed bid to reach the postseason while Ohtani was still under contract, and it’s unclear if they would be willing to part with even more young talent in hopes of contending in 2024.
- Brewers: Much like the Marlins, the Brewers were connected to Jimenez at this year’s trade deadline, and it’s easy to see why: Brewers hitters posted a wRC+ of just 92 in 2023, including a pathetic 79 wRC+ from the club’s DH slot. Jimenez would make for a massive improvement on that, and could make sense for Milwaukee if they look to continue contending in 2024. That being said, the club has already lost Craig Counsell and Brandon Woodruff from their 2023 squad and could deal more talent before the offseason is done. Given the uncertainty surrounding the club, it’s anyone’s guess if Jimenez and his $13MM salary in 2024 still fit into Milwaukee’s plans.
- Mets: With the Mets seemingly facing an uncertain future of their own, they’re hardly an obvious pick for Jimenez’s services this offseason. That being said, Jimenez seems unlikely to require an exorbitant prospect cost in trade given his recent struggles, and the Mets could be among the teams best positioned to take a gamble on him. Jimenez’s salary would hardly be a needle-mover for the big-spending Mets, and Jimenez could be a stalwart slugger at DH for two more seasons if things go well in 2024, providing some protection for the club should Pete Alonso depart in free agency next offseason.
- Red Sox: Boston’s primary DH this season was Justin Turner, who returned to free agency earlier this month. With a hole at DH and an offense that posted a wRC+ of just 99 in 2023, it’s easy to see how Jimenez could be a fit for Boston. That being said, the Red Sox are seemingly more focused on pitching additions than adding to their hitting corps, and left fielder Masataka Yoshida’s rough defensive metrics in left field could indicate that sliding him into the DH slot and giving outfield reps to youngsters like Wilyer Abreu and Ceddanne Rafaela could be the club’s ideal solution.
- Braves: While the Braves have a clear need for an additional bat in their left field/DH mix following the departure of Eddie Rosario, both Jimenez and incumbent slugger Marcell Ozuna are best served as full-timers in the DH slot. What’s more, the Braves appear focused on improving their pitching staff, without much clarity on their available payroll space. There figure to be cheaper options available on the outfield market than Jimenez who may better fit Atlanta’s needs, even if they likely lack the upside of Jimenez.
- Dodgers: The Dodgers certainly make sense as a potential suitor for Jimenez on paper given their vacancy at DH, but it’s an open secret that the club’s top priority this offseason is Shohei Ohtani. What’s more, the appears to be mutual interest in a reunion with DH-only slugger J.D. Martinez in the event that Ohtani lands elsewhere, meaning that a deal for Jimenez would likely be a Plan C for the Dodgers, barring a willingness to give him an everyday role in left field.
- Rangers: The reigning World Series champions have been extremely aggressive in recent offseason as they looked to upgrade their club, and without a surefire DH option for the 2024 season it would be foolish to entirely count them out from swinging a deal for Jimenez. That being said, a reunion with Mitch Garver could make more sense for the Rangers if they want a regular player at DH, while the presence of super-utility youngster Ezequiel Duran could allow them to use the DH slot to afford regular players in both the infield and outfield partial rest days. Either option could be preferable for the Rangers to committing significant cash to Jimenez, particularly given their pitching needs and the potential revenue uncertainty facing the club next season.