UPDATE 11/22 at 11:08 a.m.: The White Sox and Abreu have agreed to a three-year deal worth $50 million. Abreu will receive a $5 million signing bonus and earn $11 million in 2020, $16 million in 2021 and $18 million in 2022, with $4 million in deferred payment, according to Scott Merkin of CBS Chicago.
Jose Abreu, 32, accepted the White Sox one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer, extending his stay on the South Side for at least one more season. He is coming off a 2019 season that saw him hit .284 with 33 home runs and 123 RBIs, the latter being a career high.
Abreu, who signed with the Sox after defecting from Cuba in 2014, has been transparent about his desire to remain in Chicago. As a rookie, Abreu set the Sox’ franchise rookie home run record with 36 en route to Rookie of the Year honors. The Sox’ first baseman has also been named to three All-Star games and has earned two Silver Slugger awards, awarded to the top hitter at each position.
Abreu is one of only two players to accept his team’s qualifying offer this season alongside Twins’ All-Star pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Though it was expected that the Sox and Abreu would explore a long-term contract, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the “sides will keep discussing a longer deal.”
Aside from being one of three 2019 All-Star representatives for the White Sox, Abreu has embraced his role as a mentor, tasked with easing the cultural transition of young players like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez.
“He was amazing with me,” said Jimenez in an interview earlier this month. “He helped me a lot. In the first year in the big leagues, sometimes you get too excited, and he helped me with that. He said, ‘You don’t need to show people who you are. People already know. Just go out, play hard and enjoy your game.’ That was his advice.”
Despite the White Sox failing to reach the postseason during Abreu’s tenure, Abreu has remained publicly optimistic. In July, he expressed his unwavering desire to see the White Sox’ rebuild through to its conclusion.
“That’s why I’m telling you guys that if the White Sox don’t sign me, I’m going to sign here anyway. I’m going to sign myself here. I’m going to be here, believe me. I’m going to be here. I don’t want to miss this, I don’t want to miss what is coming, and I’m going to be here.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Miami Marlins were interested in signing Abreu. However, obtaining Abreu’s services would have required draft pick forfeiture, which deterred teams from pursuing Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel last offseason. Both Kimbrel and Keuchel would end up settling for below-market offers after sitting out portions of the season as a result.
Nevertheless, Abreu’s return to the White Sox has always seemed like a foregone conclusion. With the impending arrival of MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 overall prospect Luis Robert, the mentorship of this generation’s “Mr. White Sox” will be imperative to Robert’s development. Of equal importance, as the reigning RBI Champion, Abreu’s on-field contributions will be crucial toward elevating the Sox’ toward their playoff aspirations.