It hasn't been difficult to figure out why Jose Abreu wants to be a part of the White Sox moving forward. He keeps telling us.
Repeated declarations of love for the organization, excitement over the rebuilding team's future and promises that he'll sign himself to a contract if the front office doesn't do it first, it's all been freely flowing from Abreu's mouth — always through team interpreter Billy Russo, of course — throughout the 2019 season.
It's worth noting, too, that the 2019 season is Abreu's sixth with the White Sox. The team has had a losing record in every one of them. But the win-loss records haven't had any kind of impact on Abreu's opinion of the organization that signed him out of Cuba ahead of the 2014 campaign.
Saturday night, Abreu reached a milestone, picking up his 1,000th career hit in the first inning. He got an ovation from the fans in the stands and the players in the third-base dugout. A special graphic flashed on the scoreboard.
The organization saluted one of its favorite sons. And after the game, he returned the favor, adding a line that might have shed some more light on why he's been so willing to state his desire to stay on the South Side forever.
"I’m very grateful with Jerry (Reinsdorf), with Kenny (Williams), with Rick Hahn, with Marco Paddy, with all the people that made this possible," he said, through Russo. "It’s not just for the money, but they made my mom’s dreams come true.
"It’s not about the money. It’s about the dream and to be able to get to this point in my career."
Now you might understand why he might not seem to care about "leverage" in any upcoming contract negotiations.
Abreu loves the White Sox, as he's repeatedly stated. And the White Sox love him right back. Their constant praise is not only directed at his production on the field, which has been outstanding since he came to the United States. He's one of three players ever — with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — to start his major league career with four seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. While certain rate stats have taken a dip in 2019, he's on pace to set a new career high in RBIs and is eight homers away from matching his career best in that category, too.
If the season ended today, he'd have a career-worst on-base percentage, but that number is climbing thanks to a red-hot August. He came into Saturday night's game slashing .337/.382/.609 on the month, and then he added a pair of hits in the loss to the Texas Rangers.
But while all that production is great, the White Sox are equally enamored with Abreu's contributions off the field. He's a role model for and a mentor to young players, specifically guys like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and, eventually, Luis Robert, who are expected to make up the core of the next contending White Sox team.
Abreu will likely be there, too, as all the above illustrates — not to mention a supposed assurance from Reinsdorf that he'll never wear another uniform.
Those young players have happily taken Abreu's guidance. Jimenez has said he's been like a father. It's not a stretch to assume that Abreu's work ethic rubbed off on Moncada, who took it upon himself to go to work this offseason and transform his fortunes from a season ago.
Abreu, in another textbook example of why this guy is so gosh darn beloved, said that results like 1,000 big league hits do make it easier to get through to his young teammates but it's not the most important thing.
"The results makes the trust easier. It makes it easier for them to believe in what you are telling them," Abreu said. "But what is most important is just for them to realize you are a good human being.
"When you are a good human being, the people around you are going to identify that and they are going to take whatever you said and the advice you are going to give them in a good way.
"That was just the way I was raised by my parents and that’s the way I have always tried to be."
There's a reason, a lot of them, actually, that the White Sox seem to hold Abreu in the same esteem as players who have their jersey numbers retired and have statues at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Those who made the laughable suggestion that the White Sox should have traded Abreu at the deadline with plans of re-signing him in the offseason seemed to miss that. Would they have made the same suggestion about Paul Konerko? Or Mark Buehrle?
Every generation has its "Mr. White Sox." Abreu has earned that title for this generation.
Ivan Nova said it best: "He's the franchise player."
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