The White Sox just traded Jose Quintana to the Cubs. After trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton away last year as well, they’re a while away from contending. They clearly have their foot on the gas on the rebuild ship– especially considering the fact that Quintana was under team control through 2020. Chicago’s other baseball team is clearly conceding the next few years.
In this fire sale, the ChiSox have picked up a pretty solid pool of prospects in Yoan Mocada, Lucas Giolito, and Eloy Jimenez to name just a few. If they continue to go down this path, it might behoove the White Sox to deepen their prospect pool even further by trading their final remaining star: Jose Abreu.
If the White Sox do opt to move Abreu, no team should push harder for him than the Mets. He would immediately become one of the best run producers on the team, especially considering the impending free agent class.
The Mets are going to need a first baseman next season after Lucas Duda becomes a free agent (if the Mets don’t re-sign him). While Dominic Smith currently sits poised to become the first baseman of the future, few players are as consistently dominant as Abreu. The Cuban-born slugger has a lifetime slash of .299/.358/.516, and has at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first three seasons in the Majors– and he’s on pace to reach those totals again this year.
For those of you who don’t like RBI’s as an evaluator, he’s never had an OPS+ below 124 or a single-season bWAR below 2.8. Better yet, he would come with two years of team control remaining.
Even if the Sox are reluctant to move their star first baseman, the Mets should put all of their chips on the table to acquire him– except for the un-tradable Amed Rosario. A trade of, for argument’s sake, Smith and Thomas Szapucki for Abreu makes sense for both teams, and would help the Mets win in the years before their pitching becomes too expensive to retain. And yes: This is still a team built around pitching.
The White Sox, given how they’ve behaved over the last year, would be smart to pick up some elite prospects for Abreu. Barring an extension, he will be a free agent after the 2019 season. The White Sox are not going to contend during that time. With two years of control remaining, Abreu’s trade value is higher now than it will be at any point in the next two seasons.
At a premium cost, Abreu is a player who can provide premium production. Since the Mets’ lineup has Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Duda hitting free agency, they will need to make up for the production that they lose. They can make up for much of that with one of the best offensive first basemen in the game.
In terms of payroll flexibility– which we know the Mets love– Abreu’s two years of control are arbitration years. He makes $10.8 million this year, and while that will probably go up modestly, it’s going to be relatively cheap for a guy who can bat .300 and drive in 100 runs.
Even if the White Sox are reluctant to trade their final remaining star, the Mets should push hard for Abreu. Even if they have to trade a few prospects, Abreu is the kind of player who would be worth the cost. His consistency and production could drive the Mets– provided they have a healthy pitching staff– back to the World Series.