Jose Abreu Savors Even The Toughest Times With The White Sox

A future for the White Sox without Abreu is hard to imagine.

Chris Emma
June 12, 2018 - 7:11 pm
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu

Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports

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By Chris Emma--

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Slugger Jose Abreu stood tall in a corner the White Sox clubhouse, hands behind his back grasping the black jersey hanging in his locker, and looked toward what could be to come. 

Within the next seven weeks, Abreu could start in his second All-Star Game, welcome new star prospects to the White Sox in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Michael Kopech, and then he could very well be traded for another haul of young assets. 

The loyalty he feels to the White Sox organization -- which signed him to a record deal in late October 2013 -- is part of why he would feel so honored to be recognized in Washington D.C. at All-Star Game on July 17.

"We play this game for the fans," said Abreu, who leads American League first basemen in All-Star votes. "To have the honor to represent them, that they know what I'm doing, is something really big. If that happened, I would be really, really happy.

"I'm living the dream and good things are happening right now. I'm just doing my work and just trying to do the things that I know I can do."

Added shortstop Tim Anderson: "He definitely deserves it."

More than the 30 homers, 100 RBIs and .300 average you can just about set your watch to each season, Abreu is the ultimate teammate and a consummate professional each day at the ballpark. There's universal respect for Abreu inside the White Sox clubhouse.

Manager Rick Renteria sees Abreu working an "impeccable" routine hours before most arrive to the ballpark, one to maintain the consistency we've come to expect while working to refine those weaknesses. 

"He's a professional through and through," Renteria said.

The 31-year-old Abreu's place with this White Sox team is currently complicated. Signed in late 2013 to lead playoff teams on the South Side, he's presently the best player on a rebuilding team. Abreu likely would've already been traded -- like Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier and others before him -- if not for the immeasurable impact only those within the clubhouse see every day.

Having Abreu next to the locker of Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban native, is vital as the 23-year-old struggles in his first full big league season. Abreu is looking after a potential cornerstone piece in Moncada and is an important presence for all his Spanish-speaking teammates. But the language barrier doesn't cut off his abilities as a leader.

Anderson leaned on Abreu's perspective on life during tough times last year as he mourned the shooting death of a close friend. Along with veteran starter James Shields and the 24-year-old Anderson, Abreu is an unquestioned leader.

"I have a lot of respect for him," said Indians outfielder Melky Cabrera, who played parts of three seasons with Abreu and the White Sox. "He's a great teammate. Especially now that they have a lot of young guys on the club, he's a great guy that can help out the young guys. But more than anything, he's a great ballplayer."

The White Sox embarked on this organizational rebuild in December 2016, first with the trade of Sale to Boston for a package that was headlined by Moncada and Kopech. They then moved Eaton to Washington for a haul that was comprised of pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. And it all progressed from there.

Sentiments around the White Sox are that Abreu won't be moved by trade, despite the value he could return from a contending club like the Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees or Mariners. However, it's a reality those within the clubhouse hate to even believe could be true.

Abreu has just one year remaining after this season on the six-year, $68-million contract he signed out of Cuba. His contract will be expiring as the White Sox look to move aggressively in building around their young core. General manager Rick Hahn has often referred to possibilities of filling voids via free agency that prospects can't fill.

Will the White Sox move an All-Star-caliber player in Abreu and move toward a hopeful future without him? He, too, can't imagine being anywhere else but here.

"I'm really glad and grateful for this organization for all the things they've done for me," Abreu said. "I would like to stay here forever. Right now, I'm just trying to take advantage of every moment, every game that I spend with this team. Hopefully I can stay here for my whole career."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.