Jose Abreu on White Sox future after 2022: ‘Let’s see how the season goes’

“Once the season ends, I will have to make a decision and see if I want to continue or if there’s a chance to be here or if there’s a chance to be in another place,” Abreu said.

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Jose Abreu shares a moment with a teammate at White Sox spring training Wednesday.

Jose Abreu shares a moment with a teammate at White Sox spring training Wednesday.

Chicago White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Maybe this will be the year.

This could be the one when Jose Abreu, model teammate, dogged worker, likable leader by example, 2020 MVP, 2014 Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star, achieves his goal of winning a World Series with the White Sox, the only team he has played for in eight major-league seasons.

The Sox are built to win, with more top players surrounding Abreu, 35, than ever.

It’s also the last year of Abreu’s three-year, $50 million contract, and the Sox have young talents Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets probably ready and able to take over at first base if need be. So maybe this will be Abreu’s last year, as well.

It’s hard to imagine these Sox without Abreu. But speaking at spring training Wednesday for the first time this year, while saying his focus is on this season and winning a championship, he also said when the season is over, he’ll have to assess things, see how he feels and talk with his family about his future, which isn’t necessarily bound to the Sox.

“We haven’t even started the season,” he said when asked about his contract status. “Let’s see how the season goes, and let’s see if we accomplish all the things we want to. I’m pretty sure I’m going to consult with my family, see how I’m feeling after the season, see how they’re feeling, and we’re going to make a decision afterward. Right now, the focus is just to enjoy this season and have fun.”

Asked if he was just as determined to remain in a Sox uniform as he always has been, Abreu said, “I don’t know. We’re talking about two different years, two different situations. I have to see what happens with this season. Once the season ends, I’ll have to make a decision and see if I want to continue or if there’s a chance to be here or if there’s a chance to be in another place. We’ll see once the season ends.”

That marked a different tone than in 2019 while in the final year of the six-year, $68 million deal he signed out of Cuba. Abreu felt a deep loyalty to the organization and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and a commitment to riding out the lean, losing rebuilding years long enough to enjoy the eventual fruits.

“If the White Sox don’t sign me, I’m going to sign here anyway. I’m going to sign myself here,” Abreu said at the All-Star Game in 2019.

A month later, he said Reinsdorf told him and his family “several times” that he would not wear a jersey other than a Sox jersey.

When this contract is up, though, Abreu will be looking at his late 30s in the near future, although his production (30 home runs, 30 doubles, 117 RBI) was admirable last season at 34 despite drops in slugging percentage (.481 from .617) and OPS (.831 from .987) compared to his MVP season.

In any event, Abreu said he came to camp feeling good physically.

“I’ve been ready to enjoy this year and to have success and to accomplish all of the goals that we want to accomplish,” he said. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m very happy to be here.’’

Eloy Jimenez, for one, would like that to be for a good while longer. He says Abreu’s presence on this team is really important.

“Next year will have business; this year is what we need to take care of,” Jimenez said when asked about the possibility of this being Abreu’s last year. “I don’t know. Let’s enjoy this one. It is what it is. Let’s enjoy this one. This is the year. Let’s hope he comes back.”

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