Two Certainties For The White Sox Roster This Offseason

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Abreu, Garcia trade unlikely this offseason.
Ron Schwane & Jon Durr/Getty Images North America via Zimbio.

Let’s face it, Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu are not going anywhere. The White Sox are in their second offseason of rebuilding the franchise and despite buzzing anticipation for a scintillating action-packed offseason, this winter is poised for a frozen chill.

Let’s start with Nick Cafardo’s proposition in the Boston Globe. The Red Sox still have an arsenal of talent piled up in the minor leagues and they are apparently willing to trade Jackie Bradley Jr. to grab a slugger. They have been linked to the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes and now there might be interest in Abreu.

This is unlikely for several reasons — enough for a separate article.

There is a litany of reasons why Garcia and Abreu won’t be traded this offseason. In fact, there is a fair argument against trading any more players unless teams are willing to overpay for the White Sox leftovers. Besides a few bullpen arms that are recovering from injuries, Garcia and Abreu hold the most value around the league and Rick Hahn is going to wait for the right moment to strike a deal.

If either of the two is cast out into trade waters it will be Garcia. Everyone from scouts to front-office officials has been hoping for a season from Garcia like the one he just posted. He is a hulking 26-year-old with piles of promise that needs to repeat a .330/.380/.506 slash-line. A .885 OPS and 18 home runs are in the neighborhood of expectations for Garcia but with such a large frame many decision-makers around the league would rather see him blast a few more long balls.

And that is why Garcia will not be traded this offseason. Garcia’s 2017-season was a strong deviation from past years and unless another team over-pays for him he will be on the south side again next year. Unlike players from past trades, Garcia does not have a team-friendly contract that would sweeten a deal and it would be foolish for Hahn to extend Garcia before he proves his mettle in consecutive seasons. The other reason to hold Garcia in arbitration is a prospect named Eloy Jimenez.

Abreu, on the other hand, is the nucleus of a withered roster. He was the centerpiece of a presentation to land heralded Cuban-prospect Luis Robert and serves as a mentor for a blooming Yoan Moncada. It would be silly to ignore an enormous offer for the slugger and the charge to snuff out intangible factors like leadership skills and clubhouse chemistry led by SABR gurus wielding excel sheets and algorithms should be dispensed with in discussing Abreu’s value. Abreu is much more than a thumping first baseman and he means more to White Sox fans than can be tabulated on a balance sheet.

The numbers are there but age is a concern. Abreu is one of three players to post four consecutive 100-RBI, 25-plus home-run seasons to start his career. He migrated late in his career over the Cuban wall but has sizzled since his first at-bat in the big leagues. And beyond his Rookie-of-the-Year award in 2014, Abreu had the cojones to bail out of his $68-million contract and bet on himself for the remainder of his arbitration years – a decision that will heap riches upon him this offseason.

But Pito will play next season at 31 years old and only has two years of arbitration left. The White Sox stand to contend (realistically) in 2020 and beyond, and Abreu might find himself in a confounded calculus of age and production. But thinking about Abreu in a silo discounts the typically muted market for first baseman.

First basemen can be found in many places – same with designated hitters. Aging infielders, catchers and slugging corner-outfielders are all prime candidates to platoon at first base weakening the market for trades. Besides, this is a rare period in Major League Baseball where there is a coterie of elite first baseman around the league, not to mention a strong free-agent class.

Unless teams overbid for Garcia and Abreu we can expect them to remain in White Sox Sunday uniforms. This should be a welcomed reality considering the haul of prospects already culled from previous trades. With a legendary class of free agents hitting the market next offseason the White Sox are poised to make a splash with at least one signing and if Garcia stacks another tremendous season in 2018 it is only added value.

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Matt Enuco
White Sox Insider & former minor league ballplayer | Fan of bunting | Swing hard in case you hit it | Launch angle is silly | Penn G'12