With the 2018 season now entirely complete, it means that Jose Abreu has finished his fifth season on the South Side. Will he ever play for a winning White Sox team before his contract runs out?
The answer to that is quite possibly not, and when you think about what the Sox plan was when they signed him in 2013, it illustrated the fact that the club was in dire need of a rebuild even then. While they attempted to build a winner up until 2016, the Sox ultimately failed in completing this process with the core they attempted to build up. And when you look at the amount of young talent they received for Chris Sale and Jose Quintana recently, is it realistic to think Abreu might have won something in a Sox uniform had general manager Rick Hahn dealt them earlier? One will never know, but many likely believe yes.
Those who believe yes need to understand that when the Sox made an attempt to win a few years ago with Abreu in the fold, it resulted in failure due to a few reasons. First of all, they had nothing in their farm system. This led to troubles filling holes without trading for or signing mediocre veterans, not to mention putting players in positions where they were incapable of succeeding. This mixture produced countless losses, and sometimes losses by more than you can count.
Secondly, even when Rick Hahn and his staff signed proven free agents they never seemed to work out as planned. Adam LaRoche is an example of this, and when you look at the fact that he retired after one awful year on the South Side it is obvious to see when the Sox did attempt to make a splash, it wasn’t much of one once the season started.
And third and most importantly, the Sox started with virtually nothing at the big league level. The day Abreu was signed you could count two building blocks already on the team; starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Sure Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn were All-Stars in prior seasons, not to mention Alexei Ramirez was hanging around (he was a 2014 All-Star by the way), but none of them were actually guys a club would hang its’ hat on if they wanted to build a franchise moving forward. Ramirez had his great moments but was undisciplined at the plate, along with the fact that he was on the wrong side of 30.
So where do the Sox go from here? Well, trading Abreu isn’t a very good option, especially when you consider his .265 batting average coupled with 22 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 2018. No one is going to give the Sox anything for a soon to be 32-year old below average defensive first baseman who will likely make well in excess of $14 million in 2019. In my opinion, they should keep him and hope he bounces back well enough to be a mid-summer flip, because might be the only way Abreu’s tenure will end up a success with the Sox, whether his fault or not.
All in all, Abreu has been a great player for the Sox, along with a model citizen and teammate. However, he came to Chicago to win, which is unlikely to occur at this point. In the case that he resigns long-term, it is probable he will play in the postseason, but that is a huge question mark at the moment. From a personal standpoint, I hope it takes place, due to the character of Abreu. Unfortunately, it may not be in the best interest of the Sox to bring him back, and that takes precedence over everything in a business. So you might be watching #79 for one last go-around in a Sox uniform. Let’s hope he makes it a good one, Sox fans.
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