MARCH 29: Jimenez will undergo surgery Tuesday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. His recovery will take four to five months.
MARCH 25: The White Sox roster has taken a crucial blow before the season is even underway, as general manager Rick Hahn announced Thursday that left fielder Eloy Jimenez has suffered a ruptured left pectoral tendon and will require surgery. He’s expected to miss five to six months of action, putting his season in jeopardy. Jimenez exited yesterday’s Cactus League game with an apparent injury to his left arm after he attempted to rob a home run.
An absence of any length for Jimenez would have been a notable hit to the White Sox’ chances, but losing Jimenez for the majority of the season is a particularly emphatic gut punch for the South Siders. Jimenez, 24, belted 31 homers as a rookie in 2019 and improved across the board in his rate stats in 2020, slashing .296/.332/.559 with 14 dingers and 14 doubles in just 226 trips to the plate. He was on a tear this spring as well, hitting .319/.360/.532 with two homers, two doubles and a triple in 50 plate appearances.
The injury is particularly significant for the Sox due to the lack of experienced replacements in camp. Utilityman Leury Garcia has outfield experience but seems unlikely to be pressed into an everyday role, and the top options on the 40-man roster — Blake Rutherford, Micker Adolfo, Luis Gonzalez — have yet to play in the Majors beyond two stray plate appearances for Gonzalez. The Sox do have Billy Hamilton and Nick Williams on minor league deals, but neither has hit much in his recent sample of big league work.
Meanwhile, Hahn called the notion of recently signed prospect Yoelki Cespedes (Yoenis’ younger brother) jumping directly to the big leagues “premature” (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Scott Merkin). The GM also suggested that the club will get presumptive designated hitter Andrew Vaughn some work in left field as the Sox evaluate internal options (Twitter link via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune). Vaughn is already looking likely to be thrust into the Majors after skipping both Double-A and Triple-A, and tackling left field would present another challenge given that his history is as a first baseman. Speculatively, this seems like a case where the solution lies outside the organization.
There ought to be multiple options around the league for the White Sox to consider in the coming days as veterans opt out of minor league contracts with other teams. Jay Bruce has just such a clause in his Yankees contract, for instance, and he’s not a lock to make the club. New York also has the out-of-options Mike Tauchman, who has drawn trade interest from as many as eight teams. The Reds are facing a similar quandary with slugger Aristides Aquino. Unsigned options on the free-agent market include Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig.