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White Sox closing in on long-term deal with Eloy Jimenez, per report

Jimenez will presumably avoid further service-time manipulation by giving up free-agent years.

MLB: Chicago White Sox-Workouts Photo by Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox and star outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez are close to an agreement on a six-year, $43 million contract extension that contains two club options, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday:

Jimenez, 22, is rated as the No. 3 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline and looks to be one of two prospects, along with Cuban outfield prospect Luis Robert, who could prevent the White Sox’ rebuilding process from looking like a failure. Originally signed by the Cubs in August of 2013, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound slugger was dealt to the South Side as part of a deal for Jose Quintana in July 2017.

Jimenez had been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte last week and wasn’t expected to be on the White Sox’ Opening Day roster, but now that they won’t have to worry about keeping him under control as long as possible, it’s conceivable — if not likely — that he’ll be brought back to the big-league club. If that indeed happens, that’ll be an awkward conversation for the front office to have with the media, since there was definitely no service-time manipulation going on with a guy who hit .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last season and is already on their 40-man roster. One possible cop-out for the front office — albeit one that fails to explain why they’re giving him a six-year deal or why they would suddenly decide to bring him back — is that he did only hit .154/.154/.346 with one homer in 26 Cactus League plate appearances this spring.

As Passan points out, Jimenez’s contract is by far the largest ever for a player with no major-league plate appearances, and its only the third of its kind. He’ll certainly be looking to perform more capably than the two other players who took these long-term extensions before playing in a big-league game: Jon Singleton, who hit .171/.290/.331 over 420 big-league plate appearances and is out of baseball at the age of 27, and Scott Kingery, who hit .226/.267/.338 over 484 PAs with the Phillies last season and has thus far failed to hang on to a starting role.