Jose Abreu is in his final season of club control, but the White Sox apparently aren’t envisioning a future without him. Asked by MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian about Abreu’s future (video link), Hahn wasn’t subtle about his desire for Abreu to be a part of the team beyond the 2019 season.
“He’s been here throughout the early stages of this rebuild, and it’s certainly very likely that he’ll be here for the more enjoyable stages that lie ahead of us,” said Hahn of his first baseman after discussing Abreu’s importance not only on the playing field but in the clubhouse.
The debate over whether the Sox should trade Abreu has gone on for years, but despite past interest from multiple clubs and a large-scale teardown of the rest of the roster, Abreu has remained a constant in the lineup and in the locker room. Hahn specifically pointed out that Abreu was not moved as a part of an aggressive rebuild that shipped out Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Todd Frazier and others as the Sox sought to restock their farm system. While it’s technically possible that the Sox could trade Abreu and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter, Hahn’s implication seemed to be that the organization hopes to retain Abreu moving forward.
There will surely be interest in Abreu once again this summer, as the slugger is off to a .268/.328/.518 start to the season. Through 180 plate appearances, Abreu has connected on 10 home runs and 11 doubles. He’s a career .293/.352/.516 hitter with 156 long balls since his rookie campaign back in 2014 That type of production would fit into the heart of any order, but Hahn stressed that Abreu’s off-field characteristics make him more valuable to the White Sox than to any of MLB’s other 29 clubs.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the two sides will continue their relationship beyond the 2019 season, but Abreu has spoken openly in the past about his desire to remain with the White Sox, and Hahn’s latest comments make it apparent that the mutual interest on the team side of the equation has not changed. Barring an extension before season’s end, Abreu will be a candidate to receive a qualifying offer from the White Sox. He’s earning $16MM this season, so a qualifying offer — likely a bit more than $18MM this offseason — wouldn’t represent a substantial raise. Issuing a qualifying offer would not prevent the two sides from working out a longer-term arrangement covering the 2020 season and beyond.