White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez will have surgery to repair a ruptured left pectoral tendon and will need 5-6 months to recover, likely knocking him out for the entire 2021 season, though GM Rick Hahn did say he has some hope Jiménez can return late this season. The team announced the news on Thursday afternoon:
White Sox OF Eloy Jiménez yesterday suffered a ruptured left pectoral tendon. The injury will require surgery and the expected recovery period is 5-6 months.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 25, 2021
Jiménez’s loss is devastating for the White Sox, as he had 45 homers and an .848 OPS in 177 games over the past two seasons. The 24-year-old outfielder looked he might be ready to take his game to the next level this spring, posting an .892 OPS with two doubles, a triple, two homers, and 11 RBIs in 50 plate appearances.
The White Sox have very little outfield depth between their projected starting three of Jiménez, Luis Robert, and Adam Eaton. Projected fourth outfielder Adam Eaton will begin the season on the injured list with a hamstring strain, leaving Leury García, Billy Hamilton, Nick Williams, Luis González (not that Luis González), and perhaps Tim Beckham as the realistic options to fill in for Jiménez. None of those players will come anywhere close to replacing Jiménez’s production — then again, it’s unlikely that anyone from the outside will either — but it seems like the White Sox will need to add someone from the outside.
Hahn and manager Tony La Russa have already devised an interesting experiment, as they’ll evaluate 2019 first-rounder Andrew Vaughn in left field for the remainder of spring training. The only potential problem with that experiment: Vaughn, a natural first baseman, hasn’t played the outfield at all in college or at the professional level. Even if the experiment does work, the White Sox will need to find another DH to replace Vaughn, who was projected to be their main option at the position. They have a trio of solid catchers in Yasmani Grandal, Zack Collins, and Jonathan Lucroy, so they’d likely start two of those players on most days if Vaughn were to move to left field.
Outfielders still on the free-agent market include Josh Reddick, Yasiel Puig, and Yoenis Céspedes, and the Yankees have several veterans battling for Opening Day roster spots — Mike Tauchman, Jay Bruce, and Derek Dietrich — who could become available if they don’t make the team.