(CBS) Like many clubs, the White Sox value a player’s character as they assess the market, be it via trade, free agency or the draft.
The catch is there’s only so much a team can project when the said player isn’t around the team facilities and personnel on a daily basis. Which is why general manager Rick Hahn has gleefully praised 20-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the centerpiece of the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs in July.
The White Sox knew they were getting a ballplayer and nice youngster. What they didn’t realize is how other quickly other players would be drawn to Jimenez the person.
“The biggest black box whenever you make an acquisition, whether it’s in the draft or international or via trade, is what you’re getting from a makeup standpoint,” Hahn said at the GM Meetings in Orlando. “Our scouts do a terrific job digging and getting as much background information as they can on a guy’s makeup. But until you actually have him on campus and see how he works and how he goes about his business day in and day out, you don’t really know. We certainly had positive reports on really all four players in the Quintana deal, but I don’t think we fully appreciated the magnetic element of Eloy’s personality and how well he plays in the clubhouse and how diligent he is about his work.”
In 2017, Jimenez hit .312 with 19 homers, 65 RBIs, 44 extra-bases hits and a .947 in 89 games across high Class-A and Double-A, where he ended the season. Hahn confirmed that Jimenez will join the White Sox in spring training next February. When he does, he’ll do so with one goal in mind.
“He’s certainly going into camp with the expectation in his mind that he’s going to make our team, which is great,” Hahn said. “Frankly, we want all guys in camp to go about their business as if they’re making the team even though in reality the vast majority of them aren’t. But Eloy from a personality standpoint and work ethic standpoint and intelligence standpoint has really surpassed what we’d seen on paper from our scouts and what we were able to put together as background before we could acquire the player.”
Hahn was then asked if Jimenez had the type of personality and talent that reminded him of former Red Sox star David Ortiz, a fellow Dominican Republic native with prodigious power. Hahn paused for a moment.
“Let him be the first Eloy Jimenez instead of the next David Ortiz,” Hahn said. “That said, if he can match him from a ring standpoint, that’d be a positive. That’d be a nice step and standard to emulate.”