By José Alejandro Rodríguez Zas
Star Cuban major leaguer, José Abreu, first baseman of the Chicago White Sox, will start this April 7th, Opening Day of the 2022 season, his ninth big league campaign, all of them with the team from the South Side.
In October 2013, “Pito” Abreu signed a six-year $68-million contract with the White Sox and was named 2014 American League Rookie of the Year, helped by his 36 homers, a career-high to this date, third that season in the Junior Circuit.
Besides, his 107 runs batted in, his excellent .317 batting average plus .383 OBP, .581 SLG, .964 OPS made him a first-time All-Star.
Ever since, Abreu has been a centerpiece for the Sox, both on the field and in the clubhouse, and according to a publication in MLB.com, he ranks third in homeruns in franchise history with 228, seventh in RBI with 788 and eighth in doubles with 263, numbers that will improve next season.
All these results drove the club’s management to give him a three-year $50-million contract in 2019, who didn’t disappoint by taking home the AL Most Valuable Player Award in the 2020 COVID-shortened season, with 19 homers (2nd), 60 RBI (1st), 43 runs scored (3rd), and .317 AVG (4th) in 60 games.
On top of it all, he added 117 RBIs last season, second in the American League, and hit 30 dingers, proving that he still has a lot to give to baseball.
However, the Cuban slugger, who turned 35 last January 29, will be in the last year of his contract with the White Sox, and will become a free agent in 2023, something that is always a challenge for any baseball player, mainly at his age. Due to his physical conditions, he is perfectly suited to DH or even continue playing first base for any team interested in his services.
In the case of the White Sox, according to the aforementioned MLB.com note, several men, among them Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets and the very Eloy Jiménez, would be competing with Abreu for a spot, so he doesn’t have a guaranteed future agreement with the franchise.
In spite of that, in recent comments made to MLB.com, “Pito” declined to talk about that reality or the option to renew with the White Sox or trying to find other options for future seasons. Instead, he preferred to focus on personal and collective goals for the upcoming season.
“We have to get through this year, which is the most important focus for me and my family,” said the Cuban first sacker. “When it is over, if we win, it is the most important thing. This is the motivation I personally have. I am trying to take the group into a victorious path, and I think that is the most important thing,” he added.
“My focus right now is to finish the season healthy and to try to advance as far as we can in the postseason. If we have a good finish and do things right, believe me, we are going to have a spot here or anywhere else,” he concluded.
One of his teammates, Eloy Jiménez, also offered his opinion, and said: “We are going to enjoy this year. This is the year. We hope he comes back.”