WASHINGTON — Jose Abreu sat atop a small dais in a room packed to the gills with dozens of American League All-Stars and hundreds of reporters.
It only seemed as if they were all there to bask in the allure of the man seated 15 feet to Abreu’s right, Orioles shortstop and trade magnet Manny Machado.
In Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland and elsewhere — including Chicago — folks are dying to know where Machado will wield his thunderous bat the rest of this season and beyond. He drew more media attention Monday than any other All-Star from either league, even Nationals superstar Bryce Harper.
Abreu, the 31-year-old White Sox slugger, was, relatively speaking, left alone.
Imagine it, though: A year from now, might Abreu find himself in a similar position to the one Machado is in now?
The first baseman is under Sox control through 2019, and many expect he’ll be traded before their rebuild bears fruit on the field. Might he be dealt in the next couple of weeks before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline? Is there much hope at all that the Sox will give him a new deal that keeps him in the fold long-term?
They aren’t the easiest questions, but Abreu will be hearing more and more of them.
“I don’t want to think about that, but let’s pray to God that the building can be complete next year and that we can win next year,” he said through an interpreter. “That’s the way things are in my mind right now. I’d like to win with this team. I’d like to stay with this team. And I’m going to do all in my power to make this team good as soon as possible.”
Given Abreu’s impact since joining the Sox — he, Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols are the only players to hit 25 homers and drive in 100 runs in each of their first four seasons — it would be ironic if he were jettisoned just as the team prepared to turn the corner and start winning. Would that hurt him?
“No, because [the Sox] gave me the opportunity to make my dreams come true,” he said. “As my parents have taught me, I’m glad for the opportunity. I know that this is a business. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment with the team.”
Leaving the Sox also would mean leaving Yoan Moncada, Abreu’s fellow Cuban and protégé. The second baseman called Abreu the “soul” of the Sox.
“I would love to keep playing with him as long as we can,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “We played together in Cuba, and now we’re playing together here. I just hope for him to stay here for a long time with the White Sox I don’t want to see him depart to another team.”
Abreu made his first All-Star appearance in 2014, when he went on to be named AL Rookie of the Year. His second time is more special, he said, because he has his children with him. It’s a joyous time — though he wonders if he’ll have a chance to get back to another All-Star Game as a member of the Sox.
He smiles at the thought of making it to the Midsummer Classic one of these years with Moncada alongside him.
“I would like to have that opportunity,” he said. “Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity. If that happened, it would be really special for us.”