Why the White Sox are letting Jose Abreu, their best hitter, go to Houston
On Oct. 5, the White Sox closed out the season with a game against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
At his own request, Jose Abreu was not in the lineup.
"I don't like goodbyes," he said through a translator. "I want to thank (Sox fans) for all the support, for always having my back. These were a special nine years and I hope that there can be more. But up to now it's been very special and I'm going to be forever grateful for them."
When he hit the free-agent market on Nov. 6, there was a very strong sense Abreu was going to sign with another team.
Monday was the day, and the 35-year-old first baseman reportedly agreed to a three-year contract with the World Series champion Astros. Once Abreu passes a physical, the deal is expected to be worth just under $60 million.
The White Sox struggled to score runs this season, so why did they let their best hitter walk?
Abreu will be 36 in January and he hit a career-low 15 home runs this season. On the flip side, he had a slash line of .305/.379/.446 and ranked sixth in the American League with 40 doubles.
Abreu was also blocking Andrew Vaughn, the Sox's first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall) in 2019. A natural first baseman, Vaughn had to play the outfield the past two years and was a liability out on the grass.
"Just go out there and play baseball, try to be an athlete," Vaughn said of playing in the outfield.
Vaughn led the White Sox with 17 home runs and 76 RBI while batting .271/.321/.429 this season.
Under new manager Pedro Grifol, the Sox open the 2023 season with a March 30 game at Houston.
The Astros play the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field May 12-14.
Houston has one of baseball's most formidable lineups, but there wasn't much production from first base out of Yuli Gurriel or Trey Mancini this season.
Signing Abreu is an obvious upgrade, and the Sox's lineup will definitely miss the 2020 AL MVP.
"He's been exemplary in terms of what you want a White Sox player to be for nine years now," general manager Rick Hahn said at the end of the season. "No matter what the future holds for him here or elsewhere, I don't think you are ever going to hear anyone within this organization say a bad word about Jose. Nothing but admiration and respect for the professionalism and the way he's carried himself on the field and off the field."
Abreu ranks No. 3 in White Sox history with 243 home runs and No. 5 with 863 RBI.