After 9 stellar seasons for White Sox, Abreu returning to South Side with Astros

In what turned out to be his final game at Guaranteed Rate Field in a White Sox uniform at the end of last season, Jose Abreu didn't want to say goodbye.

He didn't even want to play.

Instead, he opted to sit in the dugout next to interim manager Miguel Cairo and take in the season finale.

"I don't like goodbyes," Abreu said through an interpreter.

In late November, Abreu signed a three-year, $58.5 million contract with the Astros. The Sox didn't have to wait long to see the 36-year-old first baseman in his new uniform - they opened the season with four games at Houston.

With the Astros in town this weekend, White Sox fans have the chance to say hello again to Abreu, an impact hitter during his nine seasons on the South Side.

Before Friday night's game, the White Sox will honor Abreu with a video tribute.

He's off to a horrendous start with Houston, but Abreu deserves to be remembered for all he accomplished with the Sox from 2014-22. Here are the Top 10 highlights:

1. Leaderboard

His stay with the White Sox was relatively brief, but the 36-year-old Abreu ranks third in franchise history with 243 home runs, fifth with 788 RBI, seventh with 2,509 total bases, ninth with a .860 OPS and 10th with 1,445 hits.

2. Best of the best

In the COVID 19 shortened 2020 season, Abreu hit .317/.370/.617 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 60 games and was voted American League MVP.

Abreu was only the fourth player in Sox history to win the award and first since Frank Thomas in 1994.

3. Fast start

He played 10 seasons in his native Cuba and was 27 years old when he joined the White Sox.

Abreu made a veteran-like transition to the major leagues and was voted AL Rookie of the Year after slashing .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers and 107 RBI.

4. Drive 'em in

Abreu is the only player in franchise history to lead the league in RBI for two straight years.

He finished first with 123 RBI in 2019 and topped the AL again with 60 RBI the following year.

5. Wrigley ravage

Abreu's power outage noticeably slipped last season. This year, he's played 36 games for the Astros and is still looking for his first home run.

In his younger days, Abreu was one of baseball's best power bats.

He showed off the strength in a three-games series against the Cubs in 2020. Abreu hit 6 homers at Wrigley Field, including three in an Aug. 22 game.

6. Let's make a deal

Abreu could have left the Sox after the 2019 season, but he was determined to come back after playing on two straight bad rebuilding teams.

In late November, he agreed to a three-year, $50 million contract.

"I always look at (Derek) Jeter's story and I look at Mariano (Rivera)'s story, they played their whole career with one team," Abreu said. "I haven't been here that many years but I want it to be that way for me, with the Chicago White Sox.

"That's why I say if they don't sign me, I'll sign myself. I'll play for free."

7. Elite company

Abreu became one of only three players in MLB history to begin his career with four-plus straight seasons with 25 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI.

Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols are the other two.

8. Go for a ride

In a 2017 game against the Giants, Abreu homered in the first inning, doubled in the third, singled in the seventh and tripled in the eighth.

That made him the sixth player in Sox history to hit for the cycle and first since Jose Valentin in 2000.

9. Star power

Abreu played in three All-Star Games, joining Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko and Dick Allen as the only White Sox first basemen to accomplish the feat.

Thomas and Konerko each played in five All-Star Games and Allen made it three times.

10. Silver streak

Abreu was a three-time Sliver Slugger, joining Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Magglio Ordonez and Alexei Ramirez as the only hitters in franchise history to win the award multiple times.

White Sox's Jose Abreu watches his 2-run homer during a game at Wrigley Field on August 22, 2020. Abreu hit 6 homers at Wrigley Field during that three-game series, including three in an Aug. 22 game. Associated Press
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