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Should the White Sox Re-Sign Jose Abreu?

by Adam Kaplan
Published: Last Updated on

White Sox first baseman José Abreu is having an excellent 2022 campaign. He’s currently slashing .300/.380/.470 with 14 home runs, and his 145 wRC+ ranks second among American League first basemen. Abreu leads all AL 1B in fWAR and did so at the All-Star break (despite not being asked to play in the All-Star Game). Further, it’s only the beginning of August, which is historically Abreu’s best month statistically.

The long-time Sox slugger is currently in the final year of a three-year/$50M contract. He won the AL MVP during the first year of his contract during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, leading the majors with 60 RBIs in 60 games. In 2021, he finished second in the AL in RBIs (behind Kansas City’s Salvador Pérez), hit 30 home runs, and ended the season with a 126 wRC+. Needless to say, José Abreu has lived up to his contract, and then some.

However, it’s debatable whether the White Sox should even offer Abreu another contract, one that most likely will be his last significant one. Let’s have that debate, looking at the pros and cons of signing Abreu to another deal.


Why the White Sox Should Give José Abreu Another Contract

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this next contract is one that satisfies Abreu, the White Sox organization, and the fans who want to still see the Cuban slugger on the South Side for as long as possible. There is a larger and more existential debate about what a “good” contract looks like, whether you view it from the player perspective (maximize value) or the overall payroll/team perspective (what makes sense for the Sox moving forward?). Regardless, let’s say Abreu accepts a one-to-three-year deal, averaging about $10-$15M a year. This should be a deal that everyone would be happy with.

There are two main benefits to this deal. The first is that it guarantees that José Abreu will spend the entirety of his career in a White Sox uniform. At the end of the day, a fan’s rooting interest in their favorite baseball team is an emotional one, often times entrenched in generations of family bonding. Fans have grown to love José Abreu and don’t want to see him play for another team. Playing your entire career for one organization is a lost art in today’s professional sports landscape, and Abreu accomplishing that feat would mean a lot to his fans.

However, more importantly, José Abreu is likely to be very good during most, if not all, of his next contract. As stated in the film Moneyball, “We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.” No one has a crystal ball, but it certainly seems like no one is telling José Abreu that he can no longer play the children’s game. Maybe he’s done being the consistent 30 HR/100 RBI player he once was, but he’s clearly not done being a productive baseball player.

The Chicago White Sox were largely criticized for re-signing José Abreu back in 2019, and he’s done nothing but prove his critics wrong. Maybe Abreu’s next contract with the White Sox is where those critics can finally say “I told you so,” but it’s difficult to believe that Abreu doesn’t have at least one, if not a handful, more productive years left.

Furthermore, the first phase of the White Sox contention window is coming to an end quicker than we all may think. More of the core is intact in 2023, but as the years go on, most of the team-friendly deals Rick Hahn created get expensive, and players playing under a rookie contract inch closer to arbitration and free agency. The future is shaky after the next few years due to the Sox having an improving, but far from impactful, farm system. José Abreu’s next contract with the White Sox will most likely coincide with the end of the Sox’s main contention window.

Lastly, not only will the Sox (hopefully) gain Abreu’s bat for the short term, but they’ll also gain his leadership. It’s clear he’s one of, if not the, most respected players in the clubhouse. The off-the-field chemistry might be impacted without José Abreu there, and while $10M+ is a lot of money for a leader, the organization has made it clear that the value of Abreu’s leadership goes beyond dollar signs.


Why the White Sox Should Not Re-Sign José Abreu

As currently constructed, the Chicago White Sox are filled with too many position players whose main position is either first base or designated hitter. As such, the Sox often play two first basemen in the outfield in order to get their bats in the lineup. Now that this team is relatively healthy, it’s not uncommon to see two of Eloy Jiménez, Andrew Vaughn, or Gavin Sheets playing the corner outfield spots. These players all are varying degrees of poor outfielders; though in their defense, they’ve always been first basemen who are forced to play out of position because of Abreu’s presence at first base.

José Abreu not on the team means one less first baseman playing the outfield. Ideally, it seems that Andrew Vaughn can be the team’s everyday first basemen, Eloy can be the team’s everyday DH, and then the Sox can have three outfielders actually play in the outfield.

For context, Andrew Vaughn has been an excellent hitter this season. He has the 21st best wRC+ in the American League. Yet, he has the 64th ranked fWAR because his outfield defense brings down his overall value. Abreu obviously brings positive value to the team, but the overall value to the Sox might be higher without Abreu on the roster. Granted, the White Sox don’t need to get rid of Abreu per se to avoid the pitfall of having too many right-handed hitters who hit for good average but not great power and who also can’t play defense, but it is the easiest way since his contract expires after this season.

Andrew Vaughn is under team control through 2026. Eloy Jiménez signed a team-friendly contract through the same time period. Though not a 1B/DH type, Luis Robert is signed through 2027 (I mention Robert only because he has a similar offensive profile to Abreu). Lastly, while not as proven of a hitter as anyone else previously mentioned, though a righty who seemingly can’t play defense, Jake Burger is under team control through 2028 if the Sox feel he’s a part of their future going forward.

Additionally, there’s no reason the White Sox can’t sign someone in free agency who can match José Abreu’s total on-field value to the team. The Sox will still need a corner outfielder in 2023 (and beyond), and White Sox GM Rick Hahn can (theoretically) sign a player who can actually play outfield defense and also has enough offensive pop to match the total on-field value Abreu would have brought to the team.

Lastly, while it may hurt to see José Abreu end his career on another team, he’ll always be a Chicago White Sox. He’s already done enough to have his number retired by the organization. Frank Thomas played for the Oakland A’s after he left the South Side. Mark Buehrle spent the last three years of his career for the Toronto Blue Jays. Both of those players are forever engrained as being a White Sox. It may hurt in the short term seeing José Abreu play DH for like the Arizona Diamondbacks, but we as fans will eventually get over it.


What do you think? Do you think the Chicago White Sox should re-sign José Abreu or do you think they should let him walk in free agency? If the Sox do re-sign him, what kind of contract would you like to see?


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Featured Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports


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Mark Lavie

This is a guy who risked his life to escape from Cuba. He has done nothing but live up to his good name (something that isn’t automatic these days) and provide all the baseball talent we could have wanted. So whatever he wants to do is what the Sox should do. Anything else would be a betrayal of the fans and of Abreu himself.

TJ Bra

I think a 2yr, $35 mil contract will be agreed upon with the agreement that he starts transitioning to DH by the 2nd year. The sox will make him prove that he can’t contribute before they’ll let him go.

jpfarr202

Abreu as opposed to several other players on the Sox plays every day and clearly wants to play (and win!!!). Jimenez, Robert, Moncada always seem to have a reason not to play. I’d like to see the team have guys who don’t have guaranteed contracts but want to play. Maybe next year the Sox should have Burger at third, Vaughn in left and Abreu and Sheets sharing Ist and Dh. This only works if Jimenez, Robert and Moncada have good months of August and September and the Sox find some out of town stupid who will over pay for some… Read more »

Dave Papa

Of course he is a great player with an incredible work ethic. He is a top 5 player in whitesox history. He has long career ahead hopefully with the whitesox.

terrence j Breen

he’s a must sign !!

Cindy

Keep José Abreu it’s a matter of loyalty leader ship And he’s a great player and part of the face of the White Sox

Da

White Sox need to sign a professional major-league catcher! Zavala and Grandall are both awful and I can’t understand why we didn’t find somebody to trade for somebody

Barbara

Abreu said himself in a published article that he wants to play on a world series team before he retires and wants to do it next season!!!! If he has to leave the White Sox to do it he would. See you Abreu!!!!!!!

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