Fantasy Baseball: We're not going to see Vladimir Guerrero or Eloy Jimenez, are we?
If you own Vladimir Guerrero and Eloy Jimenez, you've probably been stashing them for months, but Scott White's hope for them is quickly fading.
It's Aug. 16, and I'm discouraged.
The two most-owned minor-leaguers in CBS Sports leagues, the ones we've most longed to see since way back when Juan Soto made his debut, still aren't up. And their parents clubs are offering no hints of them coming up.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
The most egregious example came when the Blue Jays put Yangervis Solarte on the DL this weekend, where he joined Brandon Drury and Josh Donaldson to give them three third basemen sidelined by injury. The path couldn't have been any clearer for Vladimir Guerrero, who has of course been playing third base in the minors this year. There were no more roadblocks, no more contingency plans. Attrition and Guerrero himself, having homered in four straight games at the time, had seemingly forced the Blue Jays' hand.
Could their intentions be any more obvious? Nothing says service time manipulation quite like playing a .201-hitting catcher out of position to avoid calling up the greatest minor-league hitter the world has ever seen.
Well, what you call a player with these numbers?
They make Eloy Jimenez's look positively ordinary, but of course we know better. Pitted against anyone other than Ted Williams incarnate, he'd be the minor-leaguer with numbers so stupefying you'd wonder if his organization was even paying attention.
As with Guerrero, the contact rate is unbelievable for a player with his power potential. And as impressive as the overall line is, it's at another level at Triple-A, where he's batting .348 with a 1.049 OPS in 36 games.
Pretty stupid, right? What more could these two possibly have to gain at Triple-A before trying their hand in the majors? The answer, of course, is nothing. The White Sox haven't been as transparent about it as the Blue Jays, shifting various parts around to cover the obvious opening, but the intention is probably the same. They want go the Kris Bryant route with what figures to be the most prominent piece of their rebuild.
You remember the Bryant saga, right? The second overall pick in the 2013 draft batted .325 with 43 homers and a 1.098 OPS in his first season of professional ball, playing his final 70 games at Triple-A.
That's 70 compared to 36 for Jimenez and 13 for Guerrero.
Anyway, the Cubs never called him up. He hit nine home runs the following spring, and they still didn't call him up. Accusations were made. Grievances were filed. People (namely agent Scott Boras) were losing their minds.
Bryant was up by mid-April and won NL Rookie of the Year. He won MVP the following year, leading the Cubs to their first World Series championship in over a century, and now they get to enjoy him through 2021 instead of just 2020. Honestly, do you think anyone in the organization or any fan who may have been frustrated late in 2014 still regrets missing out on that small foretaste of what was to come? Not a chance.
And that's the heart of the issue: Nobody can blame the Blue Jays or White Sox for responding this way. If they can just hold out six more weeks, plus two at the start of next season, they buy an extra year of control. From a can't-miss prospect, it's too valuable to pass up. It's not like when the Phillies called up Rhys Hoskins on Aug. 10 last year. They didn't know exactly what they had in him and only came to learn he'd be a major part of the rebuild afterward. Guerrero and Jimenez, though, have the expectations of the entire franchise. The Blue Jays and White Sox have to cash in on those two, and having first dibs on another one of their prime years will go a long way toward accomplishing that.
The Braves' handling of Ronald Acuna last season and this spring is another of example of what's likely to come for Guerrero and Jimenez. They may not be the only ones either. Michael Kopech, also in the White Sox system, has rediscovered his control over his past six starts, issuing as many walks between them (four) as he did in nine of his previous 12 starts (more in some). But if the White Sox aren't calling up Jimenez, why would they call up arguably the game's best pitching prospect? There are already reports of the Mets leaning against bringing up Peter Alonso, who's up to 29 homers now. He got off to a slow start at Triple-A but is batting .344 (31 for 90) with eight homers and a 1.151 OPS in his past 23 games.
Guerrero and Jimenez are the most regrettable, though, having occupied a roster spot in the majority of Fantasy leagues since May. And even though I doubt they'll be up this year, I don't know that I'd be so quick to drop them either, at least not in leagues where more than 300 players are rostered. You've already put in the time. The only thing more frustrating that not seeing it pay off would be seeing it pay off for someone else. It's a bit of a hard-headed stance, I guess, but in a league of that size, I can't imagine there are no other expendable options on your bench.
But hey, do what you have to do. Bottom line is you can't be holding out hope for Guerrero and Jimenez still. Neither of their clubs have ruled anything out, so it's all a guessing game. My guess, though, is they won't be what saves your season.
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