White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issues statement on Jose Abreu
“It was my fervent hope that José would never wear another uniform, as I told him many times throughout the years. Unfortunately, hope is not always translated into reality,” Reinsdorf said.
The finality of Jose Abreu, one of the White Sox’ all-time top performers and most revered teammates, moving on from the South Side hit home Tuesday in Houston, where the 2020 Most Valuable Player and third-leading Sox home run hitter buttoned up an Astros jersey with his No. 79 on the back.
Moments later, Sox chairman Jerry Reins-dorf paid tribute to Abreu, who played nine seasons in a Sox uniform.
“Jose Abreu deservedly belongs among the roster of White Sox franchise all-time greats,” Reinsdorf said in a statement. “His determination and commitment to the game each and every day made him the consummate professional, always leading by example. It was my fervent hope that Jose would never wear another uniform, as I told him many times throughout the years. Unfortunately, hope is not always translated into reality.”
Abreu, 35, signed a six-year, $68 million contract to leave Cuba and play for the Sox before the 2014 season. He just completed a three-year, $50 million deal. The World Series champion Astros are giving him $60 million for three years, a deal viewed around the industry (and presumably by Reinsdorf) as overpay, given Abreu’s age. The Sox have 24-year-old Andrew Vaughn — at much less money — ready to move from left field to first base, his natural position.
“While we ended up in different places in the business side of the game, Jose and I always shared the same love of baseball,” Reinsdorf said. “I want to thank him for always representing the values of the White Sox organization and the great city of Chicago — strength, hard work, pride and tenacity. His legacy is written in the White Sox record books forever.”
Abreu, sitting alongside Astros owner Jim Crane, said he was looking forward to joining the Astros family and playing for a winner.
“A lot of great things can happen here,” he told reporters through a translator.
Abreu, who reportedly also received a three-year offer from the Guardians, said the Sox made an offer, although not a formal one.
While the Astros were introducing Abreu, the Sox held off on making the signing of right-hander Mike Clevinger official, possibly waiting to unveil the former Padre at the Winter Meetings in San Diego next week.
The Sox did announce first-year manager Pedro Grifol’s coaching staff, naming former Braves assistant hitting coach Jose Castro as their new hitting coach, Eddie Rodriguez as their third-base coach and Mike Tosar as their major-league fielding coordinator — a newly created position. The hires of former Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo as Grifol’s bench coach and Triple-A hitting coach Chris Johnson as assistant hitting coach had already been reported. Pitching coach Ethan Katz and bullpen coach Curt Hasler were retained, as expected.
Daryl Boston returns for his 11th season as Sox first-base coach under his fourth Sox manager, but he’ll only be in charge of outfielders this season. Montoyo will be the lead coach on baserunning, an area that hurt the Sox in recent years. Gone from former manager Tony La Russa’s 2022 staff are Frank Menechino, Howie Clark, Joe McEwing, Miguel Cairo, Shelley Duncan and Jerry Narron.
Grifol, who has worked with Castro, Tosar and Rodriguez on previous coaching staffs, cited his coaches’ versatility and said the group will “think outside the box.”
“Most of our work is going to be geared with a little bit of higher intensity, closer to game-like speed,” Grifol said.
Geoff Head, 37, was named the Sox’ senior director of health and performance, another newly created title. He was with the Reds in 2020-22 and collected three World Series rings during a 12-year stint in the Giants organ-ization as strength and conditioning coor-dinator, major-league sports scientist and assistant director of player development/director of sports medicine.
The Sox were riddled with injuries last season. Head assumes an important role.
“Improving our methods and operations from the sports science standpoint was a priority,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “[Head] is one part of personnel and infrastructure additions we are making to hopefully put us in a better position from an injury standpoint.”