CHICAGO – Entering the final season of his six-year contract, is Jose Abreu’s time with the White Sox nearing the end?
Will he be traded before the end of the season, possibly before spring training?
Abreu seemingly has had one foot out the door since the Sox started rebuilding two years ago.
Facing questions about his status didn’t seem to bother Abreu a bit at SoxFest.
“I’m just glad to still be a part of the White Sox organization,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I don’t think about that right now. My mind is just ready for the season. I don’t want to think about what’s going to be after the season. I’m a White Sox. Everybody knows how much pride I have to wear this uniform, and I’m ready for whatever’s going to happen.”
Two days short of his 32nd birthday, an argument can be made that Abreu’s offensive skills will not be quite sharp enough when the Sox are ready to contend.
In his first five years with the Sox, the first baseman/designated hitter has been a model of consistency. Abreu hit 25 or more homers and had at least 100 RBIs in each of his first four seasons.
Limited to 128 games last year while dealing with two peculiar injuries (testicular torsion, ingrown hair infection), he still had 36 doubles, 22 home runs and 78 RBIs with little protection in the lineup.
Abreu also made his second trip to the All-Star Game and won his second Silver Slugger award.
“Last year, I had two injuries, and I couldn’t do anything to prevent them,” Abreu said. “I haven’t changed anything in my routine during this offseason. I’ve been working hard as I always do, just to get ready to help this team be a better team this year. I think we are in the right spot, and I think it’s going to be a very good season for me, too.”
In his perfect world, Abreu would get an extension that keeps him in a Sox uniform his entire career. That also would give him a chance to play for better Sox teams than the ones that went a combined 356-454 from 2014 to 2018.
In addition to being the Sox’s best hitter over that trying stretch, Abreu also has been a mentor to young players such as Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert.
He even traveled from his offseason home in Miami to Chicago last month to help the Sox in their sales pitch to free agent Manny Machado.
“I just tried to let him know how great this organization is, how much pride we take in baseball and in the community,” Abreu said. “If it was up to me, I would try to sign him. I’m just hoping for the best for him, and if he wants to sign with us, I’d be one of the most excited guys.”
As far as beloved guys go for Rick Renteria, Abreu has been at the top of his list since he replaced Robin Ventura as Sox manager in 2017.
“I love Pito in every aspect that he brings to the ballclub – in the field, in the clubhouse, in any aspect that any major league baseball player can contribute in,” Renteria said. “He continues to work diligently, both physically and in his game. Obviously, he’s getting a little older, but he does everything he can to maintain baseball fitness as much as he possibly can. I see him as a valuable asset to us.”