GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu was never not coming back to the White Sox.
Given the loving language he used throughout the 2019 season to describe his affinity for the South Side and his intent to play there forever — a mutual affection, it should be noted, that the team felt toward him, too — there's no great leap that needed to be made to come to that conclusion.
But Abreu himself provided confirmation Friday.
During his late-morning media session at Camelback Ranch, where he's already reported for his seventh spring training with the White Sox, the slugger revealed he didn't even talk with other teams during his brief time as a free agent this winter.
"My agent and I were focused on the White Sox. That was our focus through the whole process," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "My mom taught me to be thankful, and I'm really thankful to be with the White Sox.
"Yes, we had conversations with a team: with the White Sox."
Who knows if other teams were willing to pay Abreu more than the $50 million he'll earn over the next three seasons. Abreu and his agent might not even know. But that was apparently not the priority for the first baseman who's earned his status as the face of the franchise and one of the more productive players in team history.
Asked if free agency was supposed to be about getting as much money as you can, Abreu responded, in English: "I don't care about the money."
"It's not all about the money," he continued, through Russo. "My family is good in Chicago. They love Chicago. They are really grateful and good with the White Sox organization, just the way that the organization has treated them. The fans, all the support, we feel comfortable in Chicago. For us, it didn't make sense to look around for other places."
And while some concerned only with stats might express worry that Abreu's production could slide with age during his upcoming contract — though the 2019 campaign was one of his most productive, a year that saw him lead the American League in RBIs and come three homers shy of matching his career high — his meaning to the team should be no question at all.
"Everybody knows the kind of person that he is," Yoan Moncada said through Russo on Friday. "Everybody knows he’s our leader. He’s our mentor. He’s been on this team in the big leagues for a long time now, and he’s always trying to lead by example. He’s always trying to take care of the young guys, but actually he’s always trying to take care of everybody around the team. That’s something that shows you the great person that he is. That’s something that shows you the kind of leader that he is.
"Everybody follows him. I follow him. The other guys follow him because he’s an example for all of us. That’s something that really has stuck with us about Pito."
Abreu spent the 2019 season preaching his love of the White Sox. But the team's love of him is no less apparent, seeming to hold him in the same regard as players who have their numbers retired and statues standing at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see No. 79 up there one day. And Abreu wants to make sure he never plays anywhere else.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.