By Bruce Levine–
(670 The Score) With the White Sox boasting an abundance of up-and-coming talent as the second year of their rebuild gets going, another question looms.
How will that young core affect the status of the top players on the current 25-man roster? Most notably, how will the futures of first baseman Jose Abreu and outfielder Avisail Garcia be impacted?
Both Abreu and Garcia are coming off strong seasons and have two years of contract control left. Abreu turned 31 Monday and will make $13 million in 2018. With his arbitration process pending, the 26-year-old Garcia is expected to make around $6 million in 2018.
In discussing each player, the team has been careful in its rhetoric. General manager Rick Hahn has complimented them while also acknowledging that they could be trade chips for younger assets. While many debate whether Abreu and Garcia should stay or go, they both want to remain in Chicago.
“Yes for sure,” Garcia said Friday. “I want to play baseball here in Chicago. As a player, you never know what is going to happen. My job is to continue to work hard and get better.”
Garcia praised the organization for its patience and support, and he singled out manager Rick Renteria as a major factor for a breakout 2017 season in which he set career highs with 18 homers, 80 RBIs and an .885 OPS.
“I have learned to think about things differently now,” Garcia said. “I also have more experience in the league. I know the pitchers better. I need to continue to focus and grow as a player.”
Meanwhile, Abreu has heard all of the offseason rumors about possible trades.
“They’re out there,” Abreu said. “That is something I cannot control. I love this city. I love the fans. I love the team. I feel honored to wear this jersey every day.”
A slow free-agent market in turn has also curtailed movement on the trade market for hitters like Abreu and Garcia. As they continue to gauge their options, the White Sox have no desire to accept a return of middling young players in a potential deal for Abreu or Garcia.
Asked whether he or his agent has had extensions talks with the White Sox at any point, Garcia responded, “I don’t think so.” So the ball remains in the White Sox’s court. They’ll continue to evaluate how Abreu and Garcia potentially fit in beyond 2019 and keep their ears open to offers.
“They’re both special cases,” Hahn said earlier the winter. “There are very strong arguments for them playing roles in 2020 and beyond.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.