Abreu maintains value for Chicago White Sox

Over the past four seasons, Jose Abreu has hit 124 homers and driven in 410 runs.

Eric Hosmer has hit 77 homers and driven in 349 runs during the same span.

What's the significance?

Abreu and Hosmer are both middle of the order first baseman, and the latter signed an eight-year, $144 million contract with the San Diego Padres in February.

Hosmer gets $20 million per season through 2022, when he can opt out of the deal. If he stays put, he gets $13 million in each of the final three years.

Abreu is under contract with the Chicago White Sox for two more seasons. He's making $13 million this year and is likely to avoid salary arbitration again in 2018 and collect roughly $15 million.

At 28, Hosmer is three years younger than Abreu. He is also a superior defensive first baseman.

But as the offensive numbers indicate, Abreu is a much better hitter, and he's an even better value.

The lingering question remains - will Abreu stay put with the rebuilding Sox? Or will he be moved before or after the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline for more prospects?

Either way, it's a win-win situation for the White Sox.

"He has a lot of value, especially in the place in which we're at right now," manager Rick Renteria said. "We find ourselves with a lot of young players that are just coming into the major-league level. There is a learning curve about what they're capable of doing between the lines, but then you have someone who's been here now for four years, who's maintained a really consistent working routine and has still continued to improve."

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu takes a base on balls during a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. Associated Press

One of only three players in major-league history (Joe DiMaggio, Albert Pujols) to open their careers with four straight seasons of at least 25 home runs/100 RBI, Abreu is as consistent as they come with the bat.

He has been shaky with the glove, and that's why Abreu reached out to Renteria and bench coach Joe McEwing last season.

"Last year, the first half, my focus in the field wasn't in the right place," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Thanks to Ricky and Super Joe, they helped me to get where I needed to be with my defense. I think I showed what I'm capable of doing when I'm playing first base. I think I'm a very good first baseman."

Like most players used to being on the field every day, Abreu has an intense dislike for filling in at designated hitter. In 514 games as the Sox's first baseman, he's slashed .303/.363/.530. In 99 games as the DH, Abreu's slashed .288/.338/.497.

As long as he's on the roster, Abreu will be the White Sox's regular first baseman again this season.

Renteria does plan on using Abreu at DH from time to time to "get him off his feet." Matt Davidson played 19 games at first last season and remains Abreu's primary backup.

Down the road, Gavin Sheets is the best in-house candidate to take over as the Sox's first baseman.

The White Sox's second-round draft pick last year out of Wake Forest and the son of former major-leaguer Larry Sheets, Gavin Sheets slashed .266/.346/.365 with 3 home runs and 25 RBI in 52 games with low Class A Kannapolis in his first pro season.

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