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Jimenez ready to bring titles to South Side

Chicago's top prospect: 'The dream has come true'
@scottmerkin
March 23, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn and Eloy Jiménez were about to put pen to paper, officially signing the No. 3 prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline to a historic contract during Saturday morning’s news conference at Camelback Ranch, when the White Sox general manager offered up one final question.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn and Eloy Jiménez were about to put pen to paper, officially signing the No. 3 prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline to a historic contract during Saturday morning’s news conference at Camelback Ranch, when the White Sox general manager offered up one final question.

“Are you still in?” Hahn said with a smile.

Jimenez nodded his head with an equally big smile. It was a special moment for not just the 22-year-old outfielder, but his entire family, with his mother, father and brother, Enoy -- who is also a player in the White Sox organization -- in attendance. Members of Jimenez’s White Sox family were there also.

The two sides agreed to terms on a six-year, $43 million contract, plus two club options that could extend the deal through the 2026 season. Under terms of the contract, Jiménez will receive a $5 million bonus in addition to $1 million in 2019, $1.5 million in '20, $3.5 million in '21, $6.5 million in '22, $9.5 million in '23 and $13 million in '24. The White Sox hold options for $16.5 million in '25 and $18.5 million in '26, with $3 million buyouts for either season.

Q&A: Meet top White Sox prospect Jimenez

“It’s something I was dreaming when I was a kid,” said Jimenez, sporting his white White Sox jersey with the No. 74. “The dream has come true. And I feel really proud and happy for this moment. This is the moment I am never going to forget. And it feels really good.”

This moment began approximately one year ago, according to Hahn, when they sat down with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to go through the status of the rebuild and update things. They discussed signing Jimenez to an extension even earlier in his career than the ones previously entered into with Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana and Tim Anderson.

In fact, Jimenez’s deal easily is the biggest agreed upon with a player who has never had a Major League at-bat. Phillies infielder Scott Kingery inked a six-year, $24 million deal last March with three club options bringing the value to $42 million. The only other deal of this nature belonged to Houston’s Jon Singleton, who agreed to a five-year, $10 million contract in June 2014.

A deal almost was finalized at the most recent General Managers Meetings, but it wasn’t until they were able to get face to face and talk through some things that an agreement was reached within the last several days. Hahn added this deal really is an extension, literally and figuratively, of what the White Sox sought to do when the rebuild began.

“When we originally sat down with Jerry a little over two and a half years ago to outline the process we were about to undertake in terms of this rebuild, there was a portion of it that dealt with the economics,” Hahn said. “Part of that was continuing to be aggressive with our young players, players we projected to be part of a championship core and trying to get them locked up for the long term.

“Jerry was fully on board. He understood that given the current economic landscape, the importance of doing this early and being aggressive when we did do that.”

Jimenez went 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk in Saturday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers, and he had a locker back on the big league side of camp despite being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 13. There seems to be no reason why Jimenez won’t be in left field for the White Sox on March 28 at Kauffman Stadium, but Hahn stated early on Saturday there would be no announcements about the Opening Day roster.

“Today is about Eloy’s long-term future, the next eight years and hopefully several more after that as part of the White Sox organization,” Hahn said. “Hope you understand that the decision as to the final composition of the 25-man-roster influences a lot of people, not just the man sitting next to me. We’d like to have those conversations face to face before we announce the final roster.”

That statement concluded with Hahn adding, “I know both of us are very much looking forward to Opening Day and Eloy getting started in his White Sox career.”

As the centerpiece of this rebuild, Jimenez now has his sights set on helping the White Sox take the next step in the process.

“I’m not going to put pressure on me,” Jimenez said. “I’m just going to be Eloy. I’m going to play hard and win a couple of championships.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.