With the Chicago White Sox going all-in for a rebuild and dealing most of their bigger names and hefty contracts — Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and Jose Quintana — to build one of baseball’s best farm systems, general manager Rick Hahn is remaining open in his willingness to continue that trend by listening to offers on his remaining marketable players, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia.
Abreu will be 31 in January. He has tremendous power and is a substantial addition to any team in need of a productive bat at first base and DH. Bear in mind that the original contract Abreu signed after defecting from Cuba – six-years for $68 million – is no longer in effect. One year ago, he opted out of the contract and became eligible for arbitration. He will have his arbitration years in 2018 and 2019 and then be a free agent. Teams trading for him will have him under control for two full seasons.
Let’s look at five potential trade destinations for Abreu.
- Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox need a first baseman with the free agency of Mitch Moreland, who was a one-year stopgap anyway. The price for Abreu will be steep, but the Red Sox have the prospects to get him. They’re in need of a mid-lineup basher. Linked with Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana, the Red Sox must decide whether they prefer to surrender the prospects for Abreu or spend the money on a free agent. The one spot at which they have a clear opening is first base.
For those thinking that Abreu would pepper the Green Monster, he hits the ball to all fields, so the benefits of Fenway Park are not as pronounced as they might otherwise be. Staring at that wall might take self-discipline to prevent Abreu from becoming pull- happy. This must be weighed.
- Cleveland Indians
Reconciled with losing Santana, the Indians will need a first baseman. Finances are a problem with the Indians, but the organization is creative and has the prospects to get Abreu. Two years at his arbitration numbers are doable for the Indians. The likelihood is that the Indians will do something more understated, such as trying to retain Jay Bruce and have him spend time at first base along with Edwin Encarnacion. Yet, Abreu is a big power bat to add to the middle of their order.
- Kansas City Royals
The Royals are in a strange place in that they have three major free agents. Odds are they’re going to lose Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, but they’re not going for a rebuild. Other free agents are Alcides Escobar, Jason Vargas and Mike Minor. They are reportedly going to try to keep Hosmer, but with Scott Boras as Hosmer’s agent, the chances of them paying up to keep him are slim. If they want to maintain competitiveness with a player they can flip if they do decide to clean house, Abreu is a worthwhile alternative.
It is unwise for the Royals to diminish an already limited system to put together a package for Abreu, assuming they can even do it. Since they need to replace the power they’re losing with Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain, it’s an idea to ponder, though.
- Houston Astros
Carlos Beltran retired and Evan Gattis is a trade/non-tender candidate. Yuli Gurriel’s versatility allows the Astros some flexibility where they play him, opening first base for Abreu when he and Abreu are not alternating at DH. The Astros like guys who hit the ball out of the park, but Abreu is not just a two-fisted slugger at the expense of other production, having led the American League in total bases in 2017. The Astros certainly have the prospects to get it done if they so desire.
- New York Mets
Either the Mets are ambivalent to Dominic Smith or are threatening his status to ensure he doesn’t grow complacent and gain weight over the winter. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. The Mets checked in with Santana. Abreu hits home runs, as general manager Sandy Alderson likes. Do the Mets have the prospects to spare to get him? If they include one of their pitchers not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, they can probably do it. It has been implied that they’re willing to consider that to boost the offense. If that is the case, they can get Abreu, and he would be a significant upgrade, because Smith will never be more than – at most – an 18-20 home run bat if he wins the job.