The White Sox have announced that they’ve avoided arbitration with slugger Jose Abreu, signing him to a one-year deal for 2017. Abreu will receive $10.825MM, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers tweets. Abreu is a client of ISE Baseball.
MLBTR had projected Abreu would make $12MM next season, with the caveat that Abreu’s situation required us to be somewhat more speculative than usual. Last month, Abreu opted out of the last three years and $34MM remaining on his guaranteed contract, instead letting his next three years of salaries be dictated by the arbitration process. Abreu’s salaries in his first few seasons were already large, unlike almost all players entering their arbitration years, since he arrived in the league as a veteran from Cuba. A player’s arbitration-year salary is typically dictated in large part by what he earned the previous season, and reductions in salary from one year to the next are rare.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes argued that the baseline salary from which Abreu’s 2017 figure would be determined was $11.66MM, or Abreu’s $10MM 2016 salary plus a sixth of the $10MM signing bonus on his original contract with the White Sox. Players entering arbitration with statistics similar to Abreu’s, such as Giancarlo Stanton, received significantly less than $11.66MM in their first trips through, though, so the idea was that Abreu would receive only a token raise on that $11.66MM for 2017.
It appears, however, that Abreu will actually receive a bit less than that (although he’ll still receive slightly more than the $10.5MM he would have gotten had he not opted into arbitration). It could be that both parties figured Abreu’s signing bonus would not have been a significant factor for an arbitrator in determining his 2017 salary.
The 29-year-old Abreu had his worst season in the big leagues in 2016, although his offensive marks were still excellent — he batted a fine .293/.353/.468, with his 25 home runs paling only in comparison to his 36-homer total in 2014 and 30-homer mark the following year. His numbers at first base rank as below average, so he has little defensive value, but he remains one of the game’s more capable hitters. His name has lately come up in trade rumors as the White Sox have traded veteran teammates like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and the Rockies have reportedly shown interest. Abreu’s 2017 salary was unlikely to be a significant impediment to a trade, but if the White Sox do end up dealing him now, their trade partners will at least know exactly what his salary next season will be.