Levine: Jose Abreu’s Future With White Sox Unknown

By Bruce Levine– 

CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf presented first baseman Jose Abreu with a ring Thursday.

Reinsdorf made the gesture in honor of Abreu hitting for the cycle against the Giants on Sept. 9. Abreu became just the six player in franchise history to do so.

Abreu has produced another terrific season, hitting .308 with 33 homers, 102 RBIs and a .919 OPS entering play Thursday. With his quality performance, consistency and strong presence on a young, developing clubhouse, you’d think his job security is great in Chicago.

Then again, maybe not.

Despite Reinsdorf, manager Rick Renteria and his teammates holding great respect for him, Abreu may be on the trade block this fall. His age and contract status are the reasons why.

Abreu turns 31 in January and has two years of arbitration remaining on his deal with the White Sox. Abreu made $10.825 million and is due for a hefty raise after another strong season. He’s likely to make $15 million to $17 million in 2018.

It’s not so much the money over the next two years that’s a concern but whether the rebuilding White Sox plan to extend Abreu past 2019, when his contract ends. If they don’t view him as an integral piece to when their young core is ready to win, they’d be better off trading him this offseason for players who fit their window for contending again.

“I can’t say enough about the season he has had on the field and in the clubhouse,” general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. “All that is a consideration when we try to project where we will be the next couple of years. Are we better off extending that kind of player or as we did with other extremely valuable players in the game explore the trade market? Are we better served trading these type of players for some we have contract control over that extended window of time we expect to have for ourselves? There are strong arguments for both.”

Hahn doesn’t believe Abreu’s value has changed much and emphasized that the key part is gauging the trade market as it fluctuates.

“I don’t think it has changed dramatically,” Hahn said. “That is even though he has arguably had his best year, he has stepped up his defense and leadership roles. We have control of his contract and Avisail Garcia’s for two more years. We can let it play out and see if performances change or the trade market changes. Like (Jose) Quintana a year ago, yes he was a candidate to be traded, but we had to wait for the market to adjust.”

For his part, Abreu wants to stay in Chicago.

“I would like to stay here forever,” Abreu said ahead of the home finale. “I would like to stay with the team my whole career. This is a business, and we must accept and respect what comes in the future. I would like to stay here forever.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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