LAS VEGAS - There's no knowing whether the White Sox actually want to trade Jose Abreu, but another report's out saying a World Series contender has asked about acquiring him.
First it was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could offer quite a bit in young talent to further Rick Hahn's rebuilding effort. Ditto for the new team, the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series champs, 2018 American League runners up, as good a pick for the 2019 championship as there is and a team with a bevy of highly rated prospects.
The latest info comes from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, who simply writes that the Astros have "inquired about Abreu." That's it. So much like last week's report out of Southern California, there's no indication of any interest in a deal on the White Sox part.
Last week, Hahn was asked about Abreu, who has one year remaining on his current contract, and had this to say:
"It's still an ongoing process," he said of the decision-making on the team's best hitter. "We've made no secret about our affection for Jose and not only from a standpoint of what he contributes between the white lines but what he does in the clubhouse and the role he plays in not only a leadership role but the role he plays in being sort of the centerpiece of the franchise from a mature-player standpoint. In terms of how he fits going forward, this is the last year of contractual control."
It's appropriately vague as the White Sox have several different avenues they can travel down and no rush in which to make a decision.
As Hahn said, the White Sox do love Abreu, constantly praising the incredible production he's had since coming over from Cuba before the 2014 season as well as what he does in the clubhouse as a model for young players. He's taken an active role in the rebuilding process by taking the likes of Yoan Moncada under his wing. And that production is of course valuable in the middle of any lineup. Thanks to an unusual prolonged slump and a pair of freak injuries, Abreu was not able to make it five straight seasons with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs to start his career, but despite his worst statistical season as a big leaguer, he was the AL's starting first baseman in the All-Star Game and a Silver Slugger winner.
The White Sox might look at all that production - and the off-the-field contributions - and see no reason why it would stop, making Abreu a logical piece of the long-term puzzle as things shift from rebuilding to contending and a perfect candidate for a contract extension.
But Abreu's age is advancing (he'll be 32 next month), and though they know why it happened, 2018's statistical dropoff was a big one, with Abreu posting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, home runs, RBIs, hits, total bases and games played. Not to mention, the White Sox only have one more year of control, and with a potentially appealing return package, they could opt to cash in via trade, be it now or at the trade deadline next summer.
What can the Astros offer? Quite a bit, potentially. They, like the Dodgers, boast four prospects ranked in MLB Pipeline's top 100, including two of the top eight in the game: outfielder Kyle Tucker is just two spots behind White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez, and pitcher Forrest Whitley is only three spots behind Tucker.
Again, who knows if the White Sox would want to part with a player and a person they value so highly. But there's no doubting that the organization's collection of minor league talent could get better if they do.