White Sox’ top payroll producing mediocre results

A barrage of injuries and lack of production from key players mark a so-so April and May.

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Eloy Jimenez (left) and Yoan Moncada haven’t played much this season because of injuries.

Eloy Jimenez (left) and Yoan Moncada haven’t played much this season because of injuries.

AP

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is footing the bill on his highest White Sox payroll ever. But he isn’t getting much bang for his buck. Consider:

• In the fourth season of a six-year, $43 million contract, Eloy Jimenez has played in 243 games of a possible 430 since signing his deal, including 11 this season because of his latest of numerous injuries, a torn hamstring requiring surgery. Jimenez suffered a setback in the first game of his rehabilitation assignment Saturday, exiting after two at-bats with soreness in the hamstring area.

• Lance Lynn, signed to a $39 million -extension that pays $18.5 million this season and next, will miss the first 2½ months of the season with a knee injury.

• Yoan Moncada, earning $13 million in the third year of a five-year, $70 million extension, has played in 15 games in 2022.

• Luis Robert, earning $6 million in the third year of a $60 million contract, has missed 13 games in 2022 because of groin and COVID issues after being limited to 68 games last season because of a torn hip flexor.

• Reliever Joe Kelly signed a two-year, $17 million deal before the season and started it on the injured list with a biceps nerve injury. Kelly returned to the IL after straining a hamstring last week after just seven appearances and will be out at least three weeks.

• Catcher Yasmani Grandal, in the third year of a four-year, $73 million deal — the richest in franchise history — is at the center of the Sox’ offensive plight with his .168/.281/.226 hitting line, two homers and .508 OPS. Grandal was limited to 93 games last season because of knee problems that required surgery.

• And Jose Abreu, in the final season of a three-year, $50 million deal, is batting .238/.332/.400, the worst April-May of his nine-year career with the possible exception of 2016. Say this for Abreu: He doesn’t get hurt, which on this team puts him in a class by himself.

On Sunday, All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson went down with a strained right groin and will go on the injured list, a blow the injury-riddled Sox can hardly withstand. They’re 23-23, trailing the Twins by 4 1/2 games in the American League Central, and their offense has been awful.

They carry on with a six-game road trip against the Blue Jays and Rays without Anderson, a .354/.392/.503 hitter with five home runs and an .895 OPS. Imagine where the Sox’ offense, which ranks 27th among 30 teams in OPS and on-base percentage and 28th in runs, would be without Anderson at the top.

We’re going to find out.

“I don’t want to,” manager Tony La Russa said Sunday, “because then it really strains your optimism to say we’re going to be OK.”

In the final year of a team-friendly six-year, $25 million deal (with club options of $12.5 million and $14 million the next two seasons), Anderson, like Jimenez, Moncada and Robert after him, was locked in long term before his arbitration and free-agent years. He has had his share of injuries with two stints on the IL with hamstring issues last season and a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss more than a month in 2019.

Anderson had an MRI exam and was examined by doctors Monday, the results of which the Sox will share Tuesday. Whatever the outcome, it will be a matter of weeks before he returns. He’ll join Jimenez, Lynn, Kelly and Garrett Crochet on the IL.

The Sox survived a barrage of injuries last season and won the division with 93 victories. But they were 33-21 on May 31 and need a win Tuesday in Toronto to be above .500 going into June.

With a total payroll of $195 million, the seventh-highest in the majors, according Spotrac, being mediocre in the prime year of a contention window is not what ownership had in mind.

There are four months of the season left to make it pay off.

NOTE: The White Sox put right-handers Dylan Cease and Kendall Graveman on the restricted list before their series in Toronto. The Canadian government requires entrants to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days before entry.

Cease started against the Cubs on Sunday and wouldn’t have pitched in Toronto. Graveman is one of the Sox’ top relievers. Right-hander Kyle Crick was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to fill his void in the bullpen.

Also, Dallas Keuchel, who was designated for assignment Friday, was put on release waivers.

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