As Manny Machado’s free-agent status still commanded most of the attention Friday — even with little in the way of news but for one significant signing by the Yankees — the White Sox took care of pressing contract matters by avoiding arbitration with their four eligible players, including first baseman Jose Abreu.
Abreu agreed to a $16 million salary for 2019, a raise of $3 million. Right-hander Alex Colome will get $7.3 million, left-hander Carlos Rodon will make $4.2 million and infielder Yolmer Sanchez will make $4.625 million. Rodon made $2.3 million last season and Sanchez $2.35 million. Colome made $5.3 million with the Rays and Mariners last season. The team payroll is at approximately $80.1 million, leaving plenty of room for Machado.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ signing of infielder D.J. LeMahieu seemed to signal the Bronx Bombers’ waning interest in Machado, leaving the Sox and Phillies as the only known remaining teams pursuing the star third baseman/shortstop, who is expected to sign a lengthy blockbuster deal well above $200 million. Before Friday, the Yankees — thought to be Machado’s top choice when he hit free agency — hadn’t made a formal offer. And LeMahieu’s addition on a two-year deal crowed their already crammed infield even more.
While the possibility of a mystery team continued to persist, the prospect of the Sox adding Machado to the middle of the order with Abreu did, as well, though it would be only for a year. Abreu’s contract runs out after 2019. Abreu turns 32 this month, and it remains to be seen whether he fits in the Sox’ plans beyond this season.
Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million deal when he joined the Sox before the 2014 season, but he opted into arbitration and out of his guaranteed salaries before 2017. He would have made $10.5 million in ’17, $11.5 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019 under the original terms. He made $10.825 million in 2017, $13 million in 2018 and will get $16 million in 2019 in arbitration.
An All-Star and Silver Slugger winner in 2014 and 2018, Abreu was on pace for his fifth season with at least 25 homers and 100 RBI but was limited to 128 games, sidelined by testicular torsion surgery and an infection in his right thigh during the second half of the season. He finished with career lows in homers (22) and RBI (78) as well as a career worst .265/.325/.473 hitting line.
The Sox historically have avoided going to arbitration, but they lost to Avisail Garcia and Sanchez last winter, the first time since 2001 they went to arbitration (Keith Foulke).