White Sox: Should the team consider trading Jose Abreu?
By Jeff Shirk
The White Sox rebuild is going slower than anyone hoped or expected.
Oh sure, White Sox GM Rick Hahn will disagree while pointing to the promotions of Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Luis Robert.
And, Rick Renteria will say the players are developing every day both at the major league level and learning from their mistakes.
A long way from contending
All true. Yet the team is a long way from contending – if they ever do. A loooooong way. 2018 is looking like a lost year. On a pace to lose more than 100 games, the club is not close to understanding what a contending roster looks like or when it might come together at the Major League level.
The good news is another top 5 spot in the 2019 amateur draft appears certain for the Sox. Let’s hope that the best available player the Sox choose might actually play a position they need and not further add to the several logjams of depth already existing by going the route of “best available player”.
Enter Jose Abreu.
Other than smashing the baseball and mentoring to the youngsters, what is he doing on the Sox? Of course, Abreu is beloved by his teammates and fans. No more than Chris Sale was, however.
And in spite of that, Chris is burning it up for the wrong Sox these days, and not for anything he did wrong. He’s pitching in Boston because he was marketable and commanded a high return of talent to fuel the rebuild. Same for Adam Eaton in the nation’s capital, Jose Quintana on the North side of Chicago, and David Robertson in The Bronx.
Think Abreu is special? For the most part as a hitter, he is. But his average has dropped 60 points over the past 40 games from the .319 he sported back on May 24th, his average during those 40 games a paltry .183. He has fewer home runs on the season (12) than Matt Davidson (14) and Tim Anderson (13), and but one more than both Yoan Moncada and Daniel Palka (11). In spite of being voted the AL Starter at first base, 2018 has not been an especially stellar year at the plate for Abreu.
In the context of the rebuild, no veteran member of the Sox is special.
The team is in flux to make way for the youngsters. Many current players including Avisail Garcia, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel and potentially others – including Abreu – could succumb to the rebuild. Frankly, their manager might as well. The team is moving from Point A (Acquisition of talent) to Point B (Building a championship team). At some stage, they will look to transition from Point B to Point C (Contending for that championship).
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Quick: who is the White Sox third baseman of the future? Jake Burger? Maybe? Does Zack Collins stick at catcher, or as many have speculated move to first base instead? The answers aren’t certain. And for two such critical positions to be unresolved means the team does not yet have enough talent. It would have been great if all Rick Hahn’s trades til now ensured that, but they haven’t.
There are moves yet to make.
The longer the rebuild takes – specifically, the longer each young prospect’s development takes – the less relevant Abreu is to the Sox because he will be that much older. Like Sale, the Sox should trade him at the peak of his value and performance. And that, my friends, is now. This season. Right after the All-Star game and break and before the July trading deadline. I hope Abreu starts in that game and smashes a 450-foot home run in his first at-bat, and I hope Rick Hahn has his cell phone ringer on full volume.
Next: Jose Abreu named to 2018 AL All-Star Team
Jose, can you see by the dawn’s early light a new place you call home? If not, it might be the White Sox who are having trouble seeing – or more specifically, having trouble crystallizing a vision of how to get to Point B.