Jose Abreu is the most valuable first baseman on the open market. Plenty of teams could use his services, and it appears as if a National League squad has set its sights on him.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Jose Abreu is considered a top priority for the San Diego Padres front office. Padres officials have spoken to Abreu earlier this month.
Acquiring Abreu makes a lot of sense for the Padres. They traded for Josh Bell at the trade deadline to get some middle of the order power and fill the hole they had at first base. The Bell move didn’t pan out as well as they thought. The 30-year-old switch hitter hit just three home runs with 14 RBIs in 210 plate appearances. With Bell likely to leave in free agency, Abreu represents a perfect replacement.
If anything, Abreu may even be an upgrade. He has a proven track record and has shown no signs of slowing down. While his power numbers took a dip in 2022, he led the White Sox in games played (157), batting average (.304), hits (183), doubles (40), and OBP ( .378). He also posted a career-high in walks and his lowest strikeout rate in nine years.
The Padres fell just short of the World Series, losing in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies. They have a high-powered offense featuring Manny Machado, Juan Soto, and Frenando Tatis Jr. Adding Abreu to the middle of the lineup with all that production could set the 35-year-old for a career year.
Another factor to consider is playing poorly in the cold. Historically he gets off to a slow start during Chicago’s chilly spring weather. In March and April, he had a career batting average of .256, the lowest out of any month of the season. San Diego’s Aprils are a bit more forgiving than the ones on 35th and Shields.
While Abreu wants to remain with the White Sox it has become increasingly clear that he will not be returning next season. After playing 93.6 percent of all White Sox games in the past nine years, the front office wants to go in a different direction.
According to multiple reports, the White Sox will be moving on after nine seasons. Bob Nightengale was the first to report the Sox’s plan to let Abreu move on in free agency this winter. Daryl Van Schouwen’s recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times reinforced that the front office intends to move Andrew Vaughn back to his natural position at first base to replace Abreu.
During the same report, Van Schouwen said that the White Sox’s decision to re-sign Abreu the last time he reached free agency was made by Jerry Reinsdorf. Following the 2019 season, the front office “was not 100% behind” the idea of re-signing Abreu to a long-term deal. Reinsdorf decided to take it upon himself to put forth the $50MM offer to Abreu after the slugger had accepted a one-year, $17.8MM qualifying offer.
Reinsdorf has a reputation of being loyal to a fault, but given all that Abreu had done for the organization, it was hard to blame him. In 2019 he was coming off his third All-Star season and led the league with 123 RBIs. He had also hit 25 plus home runs and produced 100+ RBIs in five of his first six seasons.
During his three-year extension, Abreu rewarded Reinsdorf’s loyalty by slashing .289/.366/.489 with a 137 wRC+. In 2020 he took home the American League MVP award. Abreu followed that up by hitting 30 home runs in 2021.
If Abreu does sign with the Padres, it will take him out of the American League, making the breakup easier for White Sox fans. He will also have a better chance to make a deep postseason run after winning just one playoff game in Chicago the last nine seasons.