While things can always change with one phone call or text, White Sox GM Rick Hahn suggested at SoxFest over the weekend that he expects both Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia to open the year with the ChiSox (link via MLB.com’s Scott Merkin).
“…[W]e are now basically done with an offseason during which we were able to understand what their value is out in the market,” said Hahn. “We made the assessment we were much better served as an organization to have both with us to start the 2018 season.”
Entering the offseason, both Abreu and Garcia stood out as plausible trade candidates, as each was coming off a terrific season with just two years of club control remaining. The Sox haven’t deviated much from their rebuilding direction, though the addition of Welington Castillo on a two-year, $15MM deal was more focused on near-term improvement than any of the moves the Sox made last offseason (or than any that they’ve made since).
Both Garcia and Abreu had their names bounced about the rumor circuit a bit earlier this winter, with Garcia being prominently connected to the Athletics and also speculatively linked to the Cardinals, among others. Abreu had his name connected to the Red Sox, Rockies and Cardinals himself, though it never seemed that talks between the White Sox and any interested party advanced especially far down the road to a deal.
Hahn, unsurprisingly, was mostly vague when speaking about the possibility of either player remaining with the team beyond the remaining two years of arbitration each has prior to free agency. The GM cited Miguel Gonzalez, whom the Sox recently re-signed, as evidence that players can return to an organization even after testing the free-agent waters and also indicated that it’s possible the Sox “figure it out sooner,” in reference to a potential long-term deal for Abreu and/or Garcia.
Abreu and the Sox have already avoided arbitration for the coming season by agreeing to a one-year, $13MM contract. Garcia figures to agree to a one-year deal at some point, though it may require a hearing; he filed for a $6.7MM salary against Chicago’s $5.85MM (as can be seen in MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker), and the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. While those hearings can be a contentious process at times, Garcia didn’t sound especially concerned about the matter (link via CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine).
“Yes for sure,” Garcia said when asked if he wants to remain with the Sox. “I want to play baseball here in Chicago. As a player, you never know what is going to happen. My job is to continue to work hard and get better.” Garcia voiced praise for manager Rick Renteria as well, Levine notes, though he also indicated that he doesn’t believe there’s been any talk of an extension between his agents and the White Sox’ front office. Such matters are often handled in Spring Training, though, and now that the Sox are more in tune with the market value of both Garcia and Abreu in trade talks, it stands to reason that they’ll also touch base with their camps to gauge the value of brokering a longer-term pact beyond the 2020 season.