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All signs point to White Sox's Eloy Jimenez being gem of Jose Quintana trade

Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There was no hint of wistfulness in Jed Hoyer's voice when discussing the subject of Eloy Jimenez during an interview session at the general managers meetings.

The Cubs GM, however, did use the word "expensive" four times in the first 15 seconds while answering a question about including Jimenez -- one of the top young talents in baseball who currently is tearing up the Dominican Winter League -- in the stunning July 13 trade that sent left-hander Jose Quintana from the White Sox to the North Side.

At the time, the Cubs needed a proven starter and the rebuilding Sox needed ... everything.

"Pitching is expensive -- especially Top 20-level pitching is expensive," Hoyer said while justifying the inclusion of Jimenez in the trade. "The free-agent market is expensive in dollars and the trade market is expensive in cost. That's just the nature of it."

The Cubs didn't make out poorly in the deal that also netted the Sox three other prospects, including pitcher Dylan Cease. The Cubs gained a front-end starter under team control through the 2020 season who helped the team reach the National League Championship Series before it bowed out to the Dodgers.

"We don't make the playoffs last year without Quintana," Hoyer said. "He was a big factor for us and he's going to be a big factor for us going forward. Eloy is a great talent and a great kid and we loved having him but those are the decisions we have to make."

 

There is a long way to go in Jimenez's development, but early returns indicate the Sox plucked a potential star from the Cubs. After starting his Sox career batting .345 with eight home runs, 26 RBIs and a .682 slugging percentage in 29 games with advanced Class A Winston-Salem, Jimenez was promoted to Double-A Birmingham where he hit .353 with three homers and seven RBIs in 18 games.

Jimenez now is finishing his season in the Dominican Winter League. The soon-to-be-21-year-old was leading the league in hitting (.369), homers (four), RBIs (20) and an other-worldly slugging percentage of .692 entering Wednesday's action.

"In a short period of time in Birmingham he made that ballpark look small and he obviously has had a wonderful stay in winter ball," Sox GM Rick Hahn said. "We'll see him in big-league camp (at spring training) and I'm sure he's going to continue to open eyes and impress not just on the field but (with) his work ethic and how he goes about his business. For a 21-year-old who has less than a month above Class A ball, it's reasonable to have a development plan that has him in Double A for the entire season next year. And if he does, well, that's a very fine year and age appropriate. That said, the good ones have a way of sort of forcing your hand on it."

Jimenez had his sights set on making the Cubs' roster last season and will have that same goal when he attends Sox training camp beginning in February. Hahn said Wednesday as the meetings were wrapping up that Jimenez will be added to the 40-man roster and be among a group of youngsters looking to impress the Sox's hierarchy in Glendale, Ariz.

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