To keep or not to keep Jose Abreu: is it really a question?
Jose Abreu saw the team win nine and lose ten while he was on the disabled list. Despite those losses, the team played some of its best baseball to this point in the season. Given his age, the rebuild, and the upcoming wave of talent, are the White Sox possibly, just maybe, better off without him?
Jose Abreu is a tremendous veteran presence both on and off the field, and he has played an important role with these youngsters. At virtually any point in his tenure on the Southside, I would have emphatically screamed “no!” to the notion of the team moving on without him. That was, at least, until the Palehose played some of their best baseball all season while he was out. I’m sure it’s just as much coincidence as anything else, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t almost – almost – forget about him the past couple weeks.
Reason #1 to keep Jose Abreu
There are myriad reasons to keep Jose Abreu as the first baseman both currently and on future White Sox teams. The first is his production with the bat. He has a career .296/.354/.519 slash line, and can become the ninth player in MLB history to hit 25 or more home runs in each his first five seasons. He needs three more round-trippers to do it. He’d be entering even more rarified air had he not gotten injured, as he would have a chance to become the third player to start his career with five straight seasons of 25 HR/100 RBI seasons. The others? Joe Dimaggio and Albert Pujols. I hear those guys were/are pretty good. In his first game back last night, Abreu collected three hits in four at-bats. I don’t even feel the need to look up any advanced metrics here. He’s simply a force on offense.
Reason #2 to keep Jose Abreu
It has been well-documented that Jose Abreu was a big part in making Yoan Moncada‘s move from Red to White Sox so comfortable. As a veteran player who was very committed to getting to the United States from Cuba, as well as Moncada’s former teammate there, Abreu instantly became his mentor. Moncada isn’t the only mentee of Abreu, as he is considered a leader and mentor for all the Latino players in the clubhouse, a role he seems to relish. This is not to mention he’s done all of this during a rebuild, while he’s in his prime! This is not an easy role to accept, let alone one in which to thrive.
Reason #3 to keep Jose Abreu
Lastly, who else is going to play first? White Sox minor league first base prospects don’t really create much excitement: Seby Zavala, Patrick Leonard, Matt Skole, Matt Rose, Nick Basto, Gavin Sheets? Are they doing it for ya? Probably not now. Maybe not ever. Jake Burger could possibly be a first baseman. On the MLB roster, Matt Davidson played quite a bit of first, and Daniel Palka could potentially be a fit there. However, neither have the consistency or track record of Jose Abreu. He’s a better fit, and an overall better player than either.
Reason #1 to say “adios” to Jose Abreu
Getting rid of Jose Abreu means more roster flexibility for younger and likely more long-term players. Daniel Palka might have a chance to try first base, and Matt Davidson could have an even longer audition to fill an infield corners/DH role. Yolmer Sanchez would potentially be able to move around the infield more frequently, instead of playing third every day. As a side note, I’m still hoping Manny Machado signs with the White Sox this offseason, moving Yolmer into a utility role.
Reason #2 to say “adios” to Jose Abreu
Salary relief never hurts during a rebuild, and saying “goodbye” to Abreu provides exactly that. Trading a player is essentially always a more valuable transaction than letting them walk away in free agency. In order to keep the rebuild moving, trading him makes more sense. Unfortunately for the White Sox, strictly first base and DH options like Jose Abreu, aren’t bringing much back in trades on the current market. However, with his above-mentioned track record, most teams would be lucky to have him on their squad. We aren’t talking a Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, or Jose Quintana haul, but something to help!
Reason #3 to say “adios” to Jose Abreu
Just kidding! There are no more reasons to potentially get rid of him! Heck, the two I listed are iffy at best. How do you like that M. Night Shyamalan twist? Seriously, until there is a clear-cut answer at first base to replace him – not just anybody, but someone in the same realm of production – there is no need to let him go. As long as he’s happy and producing, the White Sox should keep Jose Abreu in the lineup and in the clubhouse. I had you going there for a second, didn’t I? He’s too valuable. Plus, why wouldn’t you want a guy willing to eat a fake passport to evade the law on your team (see above link if you didn’t already check it out).
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