The Chicago White Sox have been playing better baseball in the month of June, but are still far from competing for a playoff spot. The rest of the 2018 season will focus on the development of their young talent and the possible call-ups of their future talents.
One intriguing aspect for the team especially leading up to the trade deadline will be the decision to possibly trade or keep Jose Abreu.
The debate of trading Abreu is a serious one because he provides benefits whether the team chooses to move him or make him apart of the rebuild. He is the biggest tradable asset the team has as he is one of the league’s dangerous and consistent sluggers that offers contract control. Along with his bat, Abreu is a benefit off the field for the White Sox as he has proven to be a leader for a very young team.
Since signing with the White Sox in 2014, Abreu has been one of the most consistent run producers in all of baseball. In each of his four seasons, he has hit over 25 home runs and driven in 100 RBIs or more. He has joined a unique group in baseball history as only Albert Pujols, Joe DiMaggio, and himself are the only players to start a career with those numbers in each season played.
When the White Sox began their rebuild in December of 2016, many veterans who had been with the team for several years were traded in return for a plethora of young talent. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, and David Robertson were players moved after two or more years with the White Sox. Abreu’s age and contract is what made him valuable for the team to keep him as he was seen a possible piece for a future contending team.
Last season, with a majority of veterans gone and many young faces apart of the roster, Abreu assumed the role of team leader especially for the number one ranked prospect in baseball in Yoan Moncada. Like Abreu, Moncada grew up in Cuba and later defected to the United States to play baseball in the Major leagues. When called up in July last season, Moncada’s locker was right next to the White Sox’s slugger as the team wanted Abreu to guide the team’s best prospect. The same can be expected for future talent and fellow Cuban Luis Robert and slugger Eloy Jiminez.
As the team continues to rebuild by adding quality talent to their farm system, the rebuild could add another group of quality prospects if Abreu is moved this season. He is currently second the Majors in doubles with 26 and leads the White Sox in RBIs with 41. The addition of his bat would assist any playoff contending team in becoming a threat for a deep postseason run.
What further drives up the value if the White Sox were to trade Abreu would be his contract as he has one year left following this season. Any team trading for him would get two chances at making the playoffs and would make it easier to part with a high-level prospect from their system. Similar to the Quintana, Eaton, and Sale trade, an Abreu trade would most likely involve a team’s best prospect or best two prospects in return.
Another advantage to possibly trading Abreu this season is that the market could be at just the right spot for the team to get more in return than at any other time. Currently, each division in baseball features teams separated by three and a half games or less, meaning that over 12 teams are currently in contention for the post-season. The two most coveted things each trade deadline is quality pitching and a power hitting bat. A bidding war in an over-competitive race could lead to higher returns for those looking to sell.
Finally, one aspect that makes Abreu’s trade value intriguing is that he could provide a quality replacement to slugger Manny Machado. Machado is the hottest commodity on the trade market this year, but due to him being in the final year of his contract, teams may not want to part with their best prospects. A trade for Machado for the majority of teams would be that of a rental player for two months of baseball. With Abreu, teams would still get similar production and another year of control in which could possibly be a trade piece in 2019 to recoup lost prospects.
With almost five weeks before the July 31st trade deadline, the White Sox will have a serious choice to make in regards to Abreu. His value will not be as high as it is now following the trade deadline if kept. On the other hand, the team must way the possible loss his presence could have on the locker room, the fan base, and the rebuild without a veteran leader. These are the tough choices an organization must make that will attribute to the outcome of possible success or failure of a rebuild.