Maybe Jose Abreu won’t be going anywhere.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Thursday morning, the White Sox are unlikely to trade Abreu, who’s been the subject of tons of trade speculation this offseason.
“Barring an unexpected turn,” Rosenthal writes, “the Chicago White Sox are unlikely to trade first baseman Jose Abreu to the Boston Red Sox or any other club.”
Rosenthal also points out that in an offseason featuring a lot of free-agent first basemen, teams might not be willing to match the White Sox asking price for Abreu.
Rick Hahn has plenty of options with Abreu, who has been the model of consistency with the bat during his first four years in the major leagues. In 2017, Abreu joined Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols as the only players ever to hit 25 home runs and rack up 100 RBIs in their first four seasons in the bigs. He finished the 2017 campaign with 33 homers, 102 RBIs and a .304/.354/.552 slash line.
That kind of production figured to make Abreu a strong trade candidate, as did his contract situation. He’s under team control for two more seasons, meaning that while he’s in his prime now, any team trading for Abreu wouldn’t have to worry about a long-term contract that continues to pay the Cuban import past his prime.
But there are plenty of reasons why the White Sox would want to keep Abreu, too. That production is chief among those reasons, and it’s not difficult to imagine Abreu continuing to produce several years into the future, including when the White Sox rebuild reaches its apex and the team’s contention window opens. Abreu has also developed into a leader in the clubhouse and a mentor for young players, especially Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who also hail from Cuba.
The thing is, with his team control ending after the 2019 season, the White Sox will have a decision to make: Do they or do they not give Abreu a contract extension? While rapid prospect development and the recent signing of veteran catcher Welington Castillo could indicate the front office believes the rebuild is moving along quicker than initially anticipated, 2020 is still the year assumed by many fans and observers as the year when that contention window begins. If that’s the case and the White Sox want Abreu around for that, they’ll need to give him a new contract, which could be a pricey one considering the aforementioned offensive numbers.
Also, holding on to Abreu this winter doesn’t mean he won’t be traded in the future. Abreu could still be a trade candidate around the 2018 trade deadline, when teams in pennant races might be a bit more willing to part with highly ranked prospects. Or he could be a trade candidate again next offseason, or at the trade deadline in 2019.
One thing Hahn has here is flexibility and several different options to consider that don’t need to be decided on right now. Or perhaps there’s still a surprise move to be made involving Abreu at next week’s Winter Meetings.