José Abreu was supposed to help usher in a new era of Chicago White Sox baseball. In his six years on the South Side, Abreu has done his part; he owns a career .862 OPS and a 132 wRC+. Things never coalesced around him though as Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn couldn’t put winning teams around the slugging first baseman. Abreu will become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season, and the White Sox need to figure out if they’re going to extend him or trade him.
Abreu has often been the subject of trade rumors, and in the next week, we’ll see if anything ultimately happens. Abreu’s value has never been lower. Not only is he under contract for just the next two months, but his bat isn’t what it used to be. His walk rate has fallen, and his strikeout rate has risen. The power is still there as he’s hit 22 homers and slugged .499, so he’s still a useful hitter. At a 112 wRC+ since the beginning of last season, he’s just not the impact bat that he once was. Even so, he would still be an upgrade for a few contending teams.
There are teams that could use Abreu for their playoff push. The Red Sox have been linked to Abreu in the past and their interest in him appears to have resurfaced. According to Phil Rogers of Forbes, Boston is one of a few teams interested in Abreu. With Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland both dealing with injuries this year, Abreu would add insurance for Boston’s Wild Card chase.
The Rays are also in the market for a right-handed bat, and Abreu would be an attractive option. Matt Duffy was activated yesterday, but Yandy Díaz went back on the IL. Adding Abreucould ensure that Ji-Man Choi never has to face another left-handed pitcher. The Rays might prefer Hunter Pence or even Nick Castellanos, however.
It’s hard to see a National League going after Abreu because the three teams who figure to win their division are all set at first. The Braves have Freddie Freeman, the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo, and the Dodgers have four options to play first that are all hitting better than Abreu this year.
Even the myriad NL Wild contenders seem content. That is, except for the Nationals. In Washington, neither Matt Adams or Ryan Zimmerman have hit well. Zimmerman recently went on the IL with plantar fasciitis, and he’s had trouble staying on the field the past two seasons. Abreu would be a clear upgrade, and he could pair well with Matt Adams who hasn’t hit lefties well throughout his career.
Even if there are places that Abreu could help out, it looks as if he’ll remain in Chicago. There’s mutual interest in extending Abreu, and if Abreu isn’t traded by the deadline that’ll be a good indication that one is in the works. Of course, if Abreu wants to play for the White Sox in 2020 and beyond, Chicago could still trade him and simply re-sign him at the season’s end. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Kenny Kelly is a writer for McCovey Chronicles and Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @KennyKellyWords.