Though they listened to trade offers for both players this offseason, the White Sox expect first baseman Jose Abreu and outfielder Avisail Garcia to be part of their Opening Day roster this year. GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including Scott Merkin of MLB.com, that the ChiSox are “better served as an organization to have both with us to start the 2018 season” on Sunday at the team’s annual SoxFest.
With perennial contenders like the Red Sox and Cardinals exploring upgrades at first base as the 2017-18 offseason began, it made perfect sense for the rebuilding White Sox to see what kind of value the 31-year-old Abreu had on the trade market. Chicago clearly didn’t find an offer that motivated them to move their star first baseman, who is coming off a season during which he posted a .304/.354/.552 slash line with 33 homers in 675 plate appearances. Abreu is a free agent after the 2019 season, but with the increasing bias against free agents in their 30s over the past few years, it certainly seems possible that the White Sox could be in position to retain Abreu beyond 2019 without spending beyond their means.
Garcia, 26, finally had a breakout season in 2017 after generally failing to live up to his hefty prospect billing during his first five seasons in the majors. He posted a .330/.380/.506 slash line with 18 homers in 561 plate appearances and was named an AL All-Star for the first time. Beyond the fact that he’s also a free agent after 2019 and might hit free agency before the White Sox are competitive again, Garcia carries the risk of possibly being a one-year wonder, and though he performed decently in virtually every reputable defensive metric in 2017, he generally has not been very highly regarded as a defender. Thus, it would’ve been difficult to fault the White Sox if they tried to sell high on Garcia this offseason.
With the Tigers entering a full-scale rebuild, the Royals possibly getting set to do the same, and the Indians facing the possibility of losing Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Michael Brantley in free agency next offseason, the White Sox might be in position to begin competing again as soon as next season, especially because Hahn has been able to assemble such an impressive collection of prospects by trading valuable big-leaguers over the past year. So while Abreu and Garcia could be valuable trade chips at the deadline this summer, enabling the White Sox to continue adding to that collection of prospects, there’s always a chance that both could be contributors on a good ChiSox team next year.