White Sox avoid arbitration with Jose Abreu

The White Sox announced Saturday that they have avoided salary arbitration with slugger Jose Abreu, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal for $10.825 million.

Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million contract after defecting from Cuba before the 2014 season, opted into arbitration for the remaining three years of his deal after the 2016 season. He would have made $10.5 million under original terms of his deal and had three years at $34 million remaining.

The Sox traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton during the Winter Meetings for a total of seven prospects from the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals, starting a rebuilding phase after four consecutive losing seasons and a poor stretch of 11 consecutive seasons with one playoff appearance (2008). Abreu has been mentioned as a possible trade chip but it’s certainly not a given he will be dealt, in part because the market for first baseman isn’t particularly great.

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, one of the best hitters on the market, is still unsigned. The Colorado Rockies were said to be in trade discussions for Abreu before they signed Ian Desmond to play first base.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 02: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox hits an RBI single against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on September 2, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Abreu, 29, batted bounced back from a poor first half to hit .293 with 25 homers, 32 doubles and 100 RBI with an .820 OPS last season.  While it ended up as the worst of his three seasons in the majors, Abreu recorded his third consecutive season of 30-plus doubles, 25-plus homers and 100-plus RBI to start his career, the first player in Sox history to accomplish that feat.

 Abreu also became the seventh player in major-league history to not 100-or-more RBI in each of his first three seasons, joining Joe DiMaggio (1936-42), Hideki Matsui (2003-05), Albert Pujols (2001-10), Al Simmons (1924-34), Pinky Whitney (1928-30) and Ted Williams (1939-49, did not play from 1943-45).

After the Sox acquired Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, rated the top prospect in baseball, in the trade for Sale, the Sox released quotes from Abreu about the 21-year-old, whom he played with a Cuba.

“I am very happy about the White Sox acquisition of Yoan Moncada,” Abreu said. “I’m proud because I played with him in Cienfuegos, I was his captain, and now we are going to play together again. He is a very talented player and it will be an honor to work with, guide and support him.

“Moncada is a five-tool player. He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player.

“He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

“I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I’m going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field.”