CHICAGO -- The White Sox enter the 2018 season with Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, two of their most valuable players on and off the field, remaining part of their rebuild.And with two years of club control remaining over each of these veteran stalwarts, there's no rush to decide on
CHICAGO -- The White Sox enter the 2018 season with Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, two of their most valuable players on and off the field, remaining part of their rebuild.
And with two years of club control remaining over each of these veteran stalwarts, there's no rush to decide on their future. Abreu and Garcia actually could play through these two seasons and still end up as part of the White Sox.
"There's no rule against any player hitting free agency and then re-signing with us after testing the market," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during SoxFest, which concluded on Sunday afternoon at the Hilton Chicago. "Until one of our players signs elsewhere, we are not ruling out the possibility of finding the right fit with us.
"It doesn't mean we don't figure it out sooner. The only thing that has changed since the last time we had this go-around about how guys like Avi and Abreu fit for the long-term, is that we are now basically done with an offseason during which we were able to understand what their value is out in the market. We made the assessment we were much better served as an organization to have both with us to start the 2018 season."
Hahn quickly pointed to Miguel Gonzalez as an example of a player traded during the 2017 season who then returned via free agency for '18. A multi-year deal with Abreu now, at age 30, could have a slightly different value than it will in two years, and the White Sox also will have a better read on where they might not have fits prospect-wise.
Abreu comes off a standout '17 campaign featuring a .304 average, 43 doubles, 33 home runs, 102 RBIs and a .906 OPS. He also served as the voice of a young team and a mentor to the younger players.
When asked about becoming the present face of the team, Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo that he's the same guy who likes to work hard and do things to be an example for other players. Abreu also admitted to hearing his name in trade rumors.
"They're out there, but that's something that I can't control," Abreu said. "In that specific point, I just try to focus on the things that I can do, the things that I can control.
"That's part of the game and I know what I have to do. I have a responsibility with this organization and a responsibility with the manager, and all the people involved with this organization. Part of that responsibility is just step up and be an example for all the guys, especially for the young guys."
Garcia, who is set to go to arbitration with the White Sox, had a breakout '17 campaign with a .330 average, 18 homers and 80 RBIs. He soon will join Abreu in Glendale, Ariz., but how long they stay with the White Sox is a decision not needing an immediate answer.
"I love the city. I love the fans. I love the team," said Abreu, who also had great praise for the front office. "I feel honored to be here and I feel honored to wear this jersey every day."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.