GLENDALE, Ariz. — There’s no doubt the White Sox love having Jose Abreu on their side. What’s not to like about a slugging superstar who works hard, leads by example in the clubhouse and has a genuinely warm and likeable personality?
So when Abreu said Tuesday morning that he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Sox, a fan base responded with an outpouring of love for the third-year Cuban first baseman.
A sample of responses on Twitter:
“He is the best! Never leave cause we all Love ya Abreu!”
“Abreu is our guy on the South Side. Loyal and our face of franchise. He will be next to get his number retired.”
“Loyalty yes! We are glad to have you here.”
“That’s refreshing loyalty – It’s an old school concept, but I like it!”
“Man, I love Jose Abreu. Love this dude!’’
Abreu shared his allegiance while talking about his disdain for designated-hitter duty. When kiddingly asked if wants to be traded to the National League, which doesn’t the DH, he said through translator Billy Russo, “No, not even a joke. I want to spend my whole career with the White Sox organization because they were the ones who gave me the opportunity to play here. And they have done a lot for me. I love to be here.’’
The Sox were aggressive in their pursuit of Abreu three offseasons ago, and won his services with a six-year, $68 million contract, the largest in franchise history. In his first season on U.S. soil, Abreu finished third in American League Most Valuable Player voting and ran away with Rookie of the Year honors after batting .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBI. His .581 slugging percentage led the AL. Last season he batted .290 with 30 and 101 RBI to become just the second player to record 30 home runs and 100 RBI in each of his first two seasons, joining Albert Pujols with the Cardinals in 2001-02.
“I have to say he has, if not exceeded expectations, he has certainly met the highest expectations anyone could have had for him,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “You look at production alone, it’s been fantastic, in terms of what he’s done on the field. But you look at how much he has been asked to give in terms of a transition to a new culture, new league and how flawlessly he has been able to do that and how well he fits into our clubhouse, and how focused he is on winning, all of that is a huge testament to his makeup and the type of character he is.
“That was the type of player we thought we were getting, but until you have him on a day in, day out basis, you aren’t sure and you don’t truly appreciate it until you see it every day.’’
Abreu, 29, is set to earn $10 million in 2016, $10.5 million in 2017, $11.5 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019. He has a clause in his contract allowing him to opt for arbitration after this season, which could put him in position to earn even more.
Hahn said Abreu’s sentiments were “great to hear.”
“And we’ve heard similar sentiments from some guys and guys we have recently acquired about how comfortable they are here and how they can view this as a long-term fit for them,’’ Hahn said. “It’s a good feeling and it speaks to the culture we’re trying to create around here. For Jose, he’s under control for the next four seasons, so a little time before that becomes a ripe issue, but it’s certainly a great sentiment to hear, and we appreciate that coming from him.’’