Red Sox, Cardinals rate as top trade matches for White Sox slugger Abreu
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General manager Rick Hahn has been quite clear since he started rebuilding the Chicago White Sox a year ago.
Having already traded 11 veteran players over that relatively short time frame, Hahn has only one (Jose Abreu), possibly two (Avisail Garcia), chips left as the winter meetings take place this week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Will he move Abreu … or Garcia?
"It's the same process we've been going through over the last year plus," Hahn said. "We're going to evaluate what puts us in the best position for the long term, whether it's Jose or any other of our veteran players. We have to make the assessment, are we best served by attempting to keep them here through the bulk of what we project to be our competitive window, the window which we feel we'd win a championship?
"Or, are we better served as we were in certain other instances over the past 12 months, making a move that adds to this young core that we're growing together for the future? As I've said a few times, we don't have to make a decision on a player that has multiple years of control necessarily this off-season.
"But we certainly have an obligation to thoroughly vet and absolutely understand their value and how not only they fit, in our opinion, but what the market has in terms of their value for other players that might fit for the long term."
Keeping the focus solely on Abreu, a case can be made for keeping the slugging first baseman. A case can also be made for trading Abreu.
Beginning with the former, Abreu is one of the most consistent hitters in the game, and he has 100 or more RBI in each of his first four major-league seasons while averaging 31 home runs.
Abreu has also become a willing leader on a White Sox team that quickly transitioned from old to young.
On the flip side, he'll be 31 in late January, and he'll be 33 when the Sox are expected to have all of their pieces in place for a playoff run.
Still under club control for two more seasons, Abreu's value is never going to be higher than it is right now.
Hahn has shown admirable patience through the rebuilding process, and he's gotten maximum value for Chris Sale (Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech), Adam Eaton (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning) and Jose Quintana (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease).
He's in no rush to move Abreu, but two teams could use his power bat and are obvious trade fits.
First, there is the Red Sox.
Boston general manager Dave Dombrowski doesn't hesitate to move young players, as he showed in the Sale trade last December.
Sending Moncada, Kopech and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe to the White Sox severely weakened Boston's farm system, but Dombrowski could still offer a package of prospects like first baseman Sam Travis, third baseman Michael Chavis and right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck.
Second, keep an eye on the Cardinals.
In desperate need of a middle of the order thumper, St. Louis thought it had a deal with the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton late last week. Stanton used his veto power to nix the trade and joined the Yankees on Saturday.
The Cardinals have loads of young talent to offer Hahn for Abreu, headed by starting pitcher Jack Flaherty, Giolito's high school teammate in Southern California and current off-season workout partner.
Starter Alex Reyes was the top pitching prospect in baseball at this time last year, but the right-hander had Tommy John surgery in February.
St. Louis could also offer catcher Carson Kelly and outfielder Tyler O'Neill for Abreu.