CHICAGO – There are two things that are certain when it comes to the White Sox first baseman in 2023.
First, Jose Abreu will be playing baseball in 2023 as he gets ready to turn 36 in January, making that clear at his news conference on Tuesday.
“Of course. I love baseball,” said Abreu through a translater when asked about playing next season. “I love the game even more now than when I started.”
Second, Abreu is appreciative of the support he’s gotten from the White Sox fan base during his nine successful seasons in Chicago, where he’s been one of the most consistent players during a era of change.
“Thanks to them for all the support, for always having my back,” said Abreu. “These were a special nine years and I hope it’s got more. It’s been very special, I’m going to be forever grateful for that.”
After that, the future is a mystery for Abreu as he prepares to hit free agency this offseason with his three-year contract signed before 2020 set to expire when the White Sox season ends on Wednesday against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The first baseman isn’t in the starting lineup for that contest but could pinch hit at some point during teh game.
Abreu wasn’t going to speculate if he would return to the club for the 2023 season, often trying to stay in the moment and not look ahead past the final series of the year.
“I still have two more games. I don’t like goodbyes. I’m going to enjoy this, I’m going to be a White Sox tomorrow, too, and then we go from there,” said Abreu.
The ninth season of his tenure in Chicago has been one of the most frustrating for the White Sox in that time since the club failed to meet expectations and will miss the postseason.
In 157 games this season, Abreu still hit .304 with a .378 on-base percentage but saw a dip in home runs (15) and RBI (75), reflecting a trend for the team as a whole.
“We weren’t healthy. We as the players didn’t do the things that we were supposed to do on the field to do our job and to support Tony (La Russa),” said Abreu of what he described as a “frustrating” 2022 season.
Whether it’s his last in the White Sox uniform is to be determined, but whatever the decision, his positive impact on the club will remain. The three-time All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, 2014 Rookie of the Year, and 2020 American League MVP was a stable force in a club that had a number of changes over the past decade.
“He’s been exemplary of what you want a White Sox player to be for nine years in a White Sox uniform,” said general manager Rick Hahn of Abreu. “No matter what the future holds for him, here or elsewhere, I don’t think you’re ever going to hear anyone with this organization say a bad word about Jose. Nothing but admiration and respect for the professionalism and the way he’s carried himself both on the field and off.
“How it fits going forward, that remains to be seen come this offseason.”
When the decision on a very big unknown for Abreu will be made.