The White Sox took a punch to the gut on Wednesday in their spring training game against the Athletics. In an attempt to rob a Sean Murphy home run, Eloy Jimenez leaped at the wall and reached over it as the ball sailed over his head. In the process, he ruptured his pectoral tendon. As a result, he will be out for five to six months.
The worst part about the injury is that it was completely avoidable. Adding on, this was not the first time Jimenez injured himself in the outfield. Ever since Jimenez joined the club, his actions in the field have been a concern. Not only is he a poor fielder, but he puts himself and the team at risk as well. Jimenez had a few injury scares last season as a result of poor decisions and avoidable actions. One of those led to him missing the first two playoff games against the Athletics last season.
It has been a debate ever since Jimenez has been in the big leagues if he should DH so he does not put himself and the team in danger. However, most reporters and White Sox management were adamant that Jimenez needed to stay in left. The reason for this was that Andrew Vaughn takes the DH spot, and the only position he plays in the field is 1B which Jose Abreu plays. After Wednesday, the Eloy for DH campaign seems to have a point.
The first issue that the White Sox need to figure out is the issue of having three franchise players at two positions. If the White Sox can take one positive from the injury, it is that Jimenez can never play in the field again. So that leaves Jimenez, Vaughn and Abreu at DH and first. Obviously, that is an issue. Trading either Jimenez or Vaughn is the last thing the White Sox want to do. Instead, the best solution is to convert Vaughn into a left fielder.
On Thursday, manager Tony La Russa said that he plans to start Andrew Vaughn frequently throughout the last week of spring training. General Manager Rick Hahn said that Vaughn gained a little bit of experience playing in the outfield in the alternate site in Schaumburg last season. The move to left field for Vaughn should not be a problem whatsoever. A luxury that Vaughn has playing in left fielder is gold glover Luis Robert. With Robert in center, Vaughn can just let Robert get anything that he has a chance at. With how poorly Jimenez is in left, Vaughn cannot be any worse. All he has to do is play smart and not jeopardize himself.
The next step for the White Sox is to figure out if they want to pick somebody up to replace Jimenez this season. Going into 2021, the White Sox have expectations as high as winning the World Series. The loss of Jimenez is detrimental to the White Sox this season. They can still win the division and succeed in the playoffs, but the road is more difficult.
That leads to many different options. The main free agency targets that people are mentioning are Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. Yasiel Puig would be a great pickup, but with a sexual assault trial it would be difficult to sign him. Cespedes is intersting, but at 35 he would be a reach. Another option would be to trade for a guy like Kris Bryant. After many trade talks have been rising about Kris Bryant, using him as a one year rental before he hits free agency would be a good idea.
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