- Editor's Note: "Should the White Sox Re-Sign Jose Abreu?" originally appeared on Sox on 35th. Adam Kaplan of Sox On 35th will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports Chicago's White Sox coverage for the 2022 season. You can read more of their coverage at SoxOn35th.com, and follow them on Twitter at @SoxOn35th.
White Sox first baseman José Abreu is having an excellent 2022 campaign. Currently slashing .300/.380/.470 with 14 home runs, Abreu's 145 wRC+ ranks second among American League first basemen, he also leads all AL 1B in fWAR and did so at the All-Star break despite not being asked to play in the All-Star Game. Further, it's only the beginning of August, which is historically Abreu's best month statistically.
The long-time Sox slugger is currently in the final year of a three-year/$50M contract. He won the AL MVP during the first year of his contract during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, leading the majors with 60 RBIs in 60 games. In 2021, he finished second in the AL in RBIs (behind Kansas City's Salvador Pérez), hit 30 home runs, and ended the season with a 126 wRC+. Needless to say, José Abreu has lived up to his contract, and then some.
However, it's debatable whether the White Sox should even offer Abreu another contract, one that most likely will be his last significant one. Let's have that debate, looking at the pros and cons of signing Abreu to another deal.
Why the White Sox Should Give José Abreu Another Contract
For the sake of argument, let's assume that this next contract is one that satisfies Abreu, the White Sox organization, and the fans who want to still see the Cuban slugger on the South Side for as long as possible. There is a larger and more existential debate about what a "good" contract looks like, whether you view it from the player perspective (maximize value) or the overall payroll/team perspective (what makes sense for the Sox moving forward?). Regardless, let's say Abreu accepts a one-to-three-year deal, averaging about $10-$15M a year. This should be a deal that everyone would be happy with.
There are two main benefits to this deal. The first is that it guarantees that José Abreu will spend the entirety of his career in a White Sox uniform. At the end of the day, a fan's rooting interest in their favorite baseball team is an emotional one, often times entrenched in generations of family bonding. Fans have grown to love José Abreu and don't want to see him play for another team. Playing your entire career for one organization is a lost art in today's professional sports landscape, and Abreu accomplishing that feat would mean a lot to his fans.
However, more importantly, José Abreu is likely to be very good during most, if not all, of his next contract. As stated in the film Moneyball, "We're all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children's game, we just don't... don't know when that's gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we're all told." No one has a crystal ball, but it certainly seems like no one is telling José Abreu that he can no longer play the children's game. Maybe he's done being the consistent 30 HR/100 RBI player he once was, but he's clearly not done being a productive baseball player.
The Chicago White Sox were largely criticized for re-signing José Abreu back in 2019, and he's done nothing but prove his critics wrong. Maybe Abreu's next contract with the White Sox is where those critics can finally say "I told you so," but it's difficult to believe that Abreu doesn't have at least one, if not a handful, more productive years left.
Furthermore, the first phase of the White Sox contention window is coming to an end quicker than we all may think. More of the core is intact in 2023, but as the years go on, most of the team-friendly deals Rick Hahn created get expensive, and players playing under a rookie contract inch closer to arbitration and free agency. The future is shaky after the next few years due to the Sox having an improving, but far from impactful, farm system. José Abreu's next contract with the White Sox will most likely coincide with the end of the Sox's main contention window.
Lastly, not only will the Sox (hopefully) gain Abreu's bat for the short term, but they'll also gain his leadership. It's clear he's one of, if not the, most respected players in the clubhouse. The off-the-field chemistry might be impacted without José Abreu there, and while $10M+ is a lot of money for a leader, the organization has made it clear that the value of Abreu's leadership goes beyond dollar signs.