Though the White Sox lost a franchise staple earlier this offseason, the effects are just beginning to be felt.
Jose Abreu, who signed a three-year, $50 million deal with the Astros in November, took part in his first team event in Houston this weekend. The veteran first baseman appeared at Astros FanFest, where he interacted with fans, his new teammates, and spoke with the media at Minute Maid Park.
“I am very grateful for the White Sox organization,” Abreu said in an interview with Daniel Gotera of KHOU Houston. “They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues for nine years. In life, it’s all about the process. My process with the White Sox ended and luckily, I’m now starting a new process in which I chose my agent, my family chose to be here.”
“I have to give thanks to Jim Crane and Jeff Bagwell,” Abreu continued, “that gave us the opportunity to be a part of this organization. The players here, their disposition is something pretty great and very much appreciated.”
Heading into his age-36 season, Abreu will play his first campaign for a team other than the White Sox. During his nine-year tenure on the South Side, Abreu was named an American League MVP, a three-time All-Star, and a three-time Silver Slugger Award recipient.
After battling injuries throughout 2022, Abreu saw his power numbers dip but still turned in a quality season overall. In 157 games played, the 35-year-old hit .304/.378/.446 with 15 home runs, 75 RBI, and a .824 OPS, good for a 137 wRC+, 4.2 bWAR, and 3.9 fWAR.
In a press conference with the White Sox before the season’s end, Abreu expressed his desire to continue playing and showed an interest in returning to Chicago. However, he said that there had not been any talks with the front office and that he would take the offseason to rest and think about what comes next. This was a far cry from when he said he would “sign himself” prior to his free agency in 2019.
An irreplaceable leader and staple of production in the White Sox lineup, the Cuban batted .292/.354/.506 (1445-for-4954) overall with 243 home runs, 863 RBI, 697 runs, and a .860 OPS. Since his debut in 2014, Abreu leads the American League in total bases (2,509), and games played (1,270). He’s also second in hits (1,445) and RBI (863) and third in home runs (243). Additionally, he’s played in 152 or more games in six of his eight full seasons in the majors, along with all 60 games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn admitted last month that a potential re-signing of Abreu would have “a ripple effect” on the rest of the roster, as the club appears ready to move Andrew Vaughn to first base to be their next long-term answer there. For Abreu, he will likely thrive with the short Crawford Boxes in left field for the Astros and will replace the aging Yuli Gurriel on the World Champion roster.
Ironically, the White Sox will open with a three-game series in Houston beginning on March 30. The Astros will return to Chicago for another three-game set from May 12-14.
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