'Shock to the system': White Sox react to Abreu signing with Astros
After signing a three-year, $58.5 million contract the night before, Jose Abreu was introduced Tuesday as the Astros' new first baseman in Houston.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn had mixed feelings.
"It's always a difficult day from an emotional standpoint, or from a fan standpoint, when you see a franchise icon don another uniform," Hahn said. "It's a day that nobody ever envisions seeing, but the realities of the business side sometimes dictate that such things happen."
A free agent after playing his first nine seasons on the South Side, Abreu said the Sox did make him an offer to return.
"It was a really good offer, but I think we'll leave it there," he said through an interpreter.
Hahn was equally vague about the White Sox's interest.
"You know me, I don't want to talk about negotiations or offers, we only talk about deals that happen," the Sox's GM said. "Intellectually, I knew this day was possible, objectively it makes sense for two organizations given their needs and fits, who's available on their roster to value, make contract offers that are different. So it's a reality that, objectively, two different teams can land in two different places when it comes to a player.
"I've seen enough of this over the years to know it was intellectually possible, but I also understand -- it's the fan's standpoint in me -- it's a shock to the system. It's lousy. And it makes all the sense in the world objectively, but you get that. You feel that."
There's no doubt Abreu made a major impact in the middle of the White Sox's lineup for nearly a decade. He ranks third in franchise history with 243 home runs and fifth with 863 RBI.
Abreu also hit a career-low 15 home runs this year and he'll be 36 years old next season.
Letting him exit as a free agent -- Cleveland and Boston also tried signing Abreu -- opens the door to move Andrew Vaughn from the outfield to first base, his natural position.
The 24-year-old Vaughn led the Sox with 17 home runs and 76 RBI this season.
"We've made no secret of the fact we're very bullish on Andrew Vaughn's future," Hahn said. "And make no secret of the fact we've asked a lot of this player over the last couple years in terms of his advancement and playing him out of position. Ultimately, we think we're going to be stronger as a club if we don't have players playing out of position."
The White Sox open the 2023 season at Houston. Seeing Abreu in an Astros uniform is going to be an unusual sight.
"Jose Abreu deservedly belongs among the roster of White Sox franchise all-time greats," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "His determination and commitment to the game each and every day made him the consummate professional, always leading by example. It was my fervent hope that Jose would never wear another uniform, as I told him many times throughout the years. Unfortunately, hope is not always translated into reality."