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Wishful Thinking Part 2: Chicago White Sox Style: They Sign Jose Abreu

"Rick Hahn made his first major move as White Sox GM yesterday when he signed 26 year old Cuban defector Jose Abreu to a 6 year $68 million contract. While most are surprised that the White Sox were able to sign Abreu, most are also happy with the signing. So fans are hoping that, along with Avisail Garcia, Abreu can be one of the Sox cornerstones for years to come.

“Rick Hahn made his first major move as White Sox GM yesterday when he signed 26 year old Cuban defector Jose Abreu to a 6 year $68 million contract. While most are surprised that the White Sox were able to sign him, most are also happy with the signing. So fans are hoping that, along with Avisail Garcia, Abreu can be one of the Sox cornerstones for years to come.  Chicago had their worst year in a long time this 2013 season, and this move is good in that it did not cost the franchise anything but money on the payroll.

By ‘White Sox Correspondent’ Brian Madsen  

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I love Paul Konerko. I love Frank Thomas. These two White Sox first basemen are whom we as fans will compare the recently signed Jose Abreu to, as we should.

Don’t compare him to Yoenis Cespedes, or Yasiel Puig, just because they are also from Cuba. He’s the direct replacement for Paul Konerko, just as the longest reigning White Sox player was the replacement for Frank Thomas.

I assumed Rick Hahn would wait until after the postseason was completed to begin the White Sox revamp going into the 2014 season.

Well, the World Series hasn’t even begun, and Hahn managed to sign the biggest free agent hitter available to a 6 year, $68 million contract. This is also the biggest contract given to an international free agent in the history of MLB.

Good start? Some say no, but many say yes. Abreu was very sought after, desired by many MLB clubs. We, as Sox fans, knew of the White Sox interest in him once it was announced that he was soon going to be made available as a free agent.

But, I don’t think many of us thought he would sign here. Boston maybe. Yankees? Rangers? All distinct possibilities. No way the White Sox get him.

Then, you started hearing rumblings that White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo, also a native of Cuba, knows Jose Abreu, and even played with him on a couple Cuban teams.

Could he be whispering in the Cuban players ear about coming to Chicago? Maybe. Was the $ the main contributing factor in Abreu signing with the White Sox? More than likely.

Jose Abreu signed the most lucrative contract for an international signee in MLB history. He'll more than likely start the 2014 season with the big club, rather than starting in the minors.He'll spend most of his time at first base, with (more than likely) some occasional starts at DH.

Jose Abreu signed the most lucrative contract for an international signee in MLB history. He’ll more than likely start the 2014 season with the big club, rather than starting in the minors.He’ll spend most of his time at first base, with (more than likely) some occasional starts at DH.

Sox fans would love think that, first, Jose Abreu turns into an absolute monster at the plate, and a perennial 30+ HR hitter for years to come.

But I would also like to think that maybe he can be a calming influence for Dayan Viciedo in some way. Is that crazy? that the 2nd full year player struggled mightily in 2013, after having a very productive 2012 season.

How much of an effect does good chemistry have on a ball club, or even one particular player?

As I mentioned in part 1 of this article, the Sox have solid pitching. They need bats, and guys that get on base. While they have more holes to fill than 1st base, this is a step in the right direction.

Before agreeing to sign Abreu, the Sox payroll was at approximately $48 million for 2014. Adding his deal to the mix still brings the payroll short of $60 million.

I doubt that Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf wants to have another payroll north of $100 million (a number the Sox have exceeded every year for the last 10 seasons), but there is still more room for additions to the ball club.

Rick Hahn has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t plan on a complete tear down and rebuild, like the Astros and Cubs, but isn’t opposed to re-tooling or re-vamping.

We knew the Sox would spend even more $ in the international market this year than they did last year, but Abreu’s contract drastically increases that number from last year. And I’m OK with that.

I’m not here to say that Abreu is the savior. He may only turn out to be a “good” player. But it’s a step in the right direction. This is good $ spent.

Imagine the difference between 2013 Opening Day’s lineup versus next season’s? You had a 3 – 4 of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn in 2013. In 2014, it’ll be Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu. That’s exciting!!

The Cuban signing with the Sox has also created a buzz. Smack dab in the middle of the country’s most popular sport, the NFL season, what was the number one topic on sports radio here in Chicago this morning? Jose Abreu.

Not the Bears, not the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. It was the White Sox and Jose Abreu. Maybe the excitement only lasts a few days, and won’t be revisited until Spring Training begins, but it sure is fun to talk about now.

With catcher and the 3rd base position still needing to be addressed, Rich Hahn can go a few different directions.

The young Marcus Semien could be the starting 3rd baseman. Or, Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie could continue to platoon as they did in 2013 (let’s hope not).Or, a trade could be made.

While the Sox have young arms to possibly deal, is management willing to deal from a position of strength to bring in a player at a currently weak position? Time will tell.

Frank Thomas is a sure-fire, first ballot HOFer, and one of the best hitters of my lifetime. Paul Konerko has been a solid, All Star first baseman for many years in the White Sox organization.

They are the standards to which we, as White Sox fans, should compare Abreu. Not Cespedes, not Puig. Abreu is a completely different player than his two fellow-countrymen.

In 10 years, I want to look back at my favorite baseball team, and remember the great first baseman I've had the pleasure of watching. Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, and Jose Abreu. The third guy on that list may be wishful thinking, but it's all I got.Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko manned first base for the White So for over 20 years combined. While Big Frank retired a few years ago, it is still yet unknown whether Konerko will retire, remain with the Sox in a bench role, or sign elsewhere in 2014.It has been rumored that Konerko wants to give it one more year, especially after he had his most disappointing and unproductive season in his solid career.

In 10 years, I want to look back at my favorite baseball team, and remember the great first baseman I’ve had the pleasure of watching. Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, and Jose Abreu. The third guy on that list may be wishful thinking, but it’s all I got.Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko manned first base for the White So for over 20 years combined. While Big Frank retired a few years ago, it is still yet unknown whether Konerko will retire, remain with the Sox in a bench role, or sign elsewhere in 2014.It has been rumored that Konerko wants to give it one more year, especially after he had his most disappointing and unproductive season in his solid career.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thank-you goes out to our ‘White Sox Correspondent’ Brian Madsen for preparing today’s featured article. Brian was born and raised in Chicago Heights, IL, a south suburb of Chicago.

He attended Illinois St. University, majoring in education/teaching. Brian now lives in Joliet, IL with his wife Suzanne two daughters, Abby, 9, and Grace, 4.

He has worked at The Little Guys Home Technology for 12 years as a salesman/system designer/custom integrator.

Brian is an avid White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls fan.   

a brian madsen

Please e-mail me  at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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Posted on October 19, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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