Hahn on Abreu: 'It's a shock to the system' 

November 29th, 2022

CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn wouldn’t get into the specific contractual offer made by the team to José Abreu, the White Sox leader and a staple for the past nine years who joined the Astros on Monday night via a three-year deal.

But on Tuesday, Hahn discussed the inevitable pain following a player of Abreu’s South Side stature joining another team.

“Obviously, it’s always a difficult day from an emotional standpoint, or from a fan standpoint, when you see a franchise icon don another uniform,” Hahn said. “It’s a day that nobody ever envisions seeing but the realities of the business side sometimes dictate that such things happen.

“I don’t want to talk about negotiations or offers. We only talk about deals that happen. … Objectively, it makes sense for two organizations given their needs and fits, who’s available on their roster to value, to make contract offers that are different.”

Abreu, who turns 36 on Jan. 29, was his usual upbeat self during a Tuesday press conference at Minute Maid Park. He spoke briefly about his 1,270 games with the White Sox and finishing third all-time in franchise history with 243 home runs, as well as any interest by the only team he ever knew in bringing him back. 

“The most important thing was to leave a legacy of much respect for the game, much respect for my teammates, much respect for [White Sox chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf …” said Abreu through an interpreter. “For me, that’s important.

“My grandfather always told me to give that kind of respect. Yes, the White Sox made an offer. It wasn’t bad. It was an offer, but … it stays there. God knows why we’re here, and that’s the most important thing.”

Reinsdorf and Abreu had a bond of respect, with Reinsdorf once commissioning a special ring for the first baseman after he hit for the cycle against the Giants in 2017. The White Sox chairman issued a statement through the team after the Abreu press conference.

“José Abreu deservedly belongs among the roster of White Sox franchise all-time greats," Reinsdorf said. "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 José would never wear another uniform, as I told him many times throughout the years. Unfortunately, hope is not always translated into reality.

“While we ended up in different places in the business side of the game, José and I always shared the same love of baseball. I am grateful to José for his friendship, and the impact he made for the White Sox franchise both on the field and in the community. 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.”

Andrew Vaughn, who had the same sort of high-end offensive production as Abreu in ’22, moves to first base with Abreu’s departure. Despite being sad to see Abreu go, Hahn ultimately believes the team will be stronger if it doesn’t have players playing out of position.

“Objectively, you can look at the roster and feel like this obviously makes sense to have Andrew installed at first and have Gavin Sheets perhaps get some opportunities there, or occasionally perhaps Yasmani [Grandal],” Hahn said. “But it doesn’t remove the emotional side of it, which we’re all dealing with for a portion of the day. Then we resume work trying to improve this roster with a feeling like first base is not an area of need given Andrew’s presence.

“I’ve seen enough of this over the years to know it was intellectually possible, but I also understand -- it’s the fans' standpoint in me -- it’s a shock to the system. It's lousy. And it makes all the sense in the world objectively, but you ... feel that. I’d be in the wrong line of work if I didn’t feel that.”