Jose Abreu will stay with the White Sox rather than test the free agent market, as ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link) that the first baseman has accepted the team’s one-year, $17.8MM qualifying offer. The team has since announced that Abreu is indeed returning after accepting the QO.
Abreu stood out as the likeliest player to accept a qualifying offer given his age (33 in January), lack of defensive value and longstanding vocal desire to remain with the White Sox. The market for strict first base/DH type sluggers has deteriorated in recent years, and while some elite hitters (e.g. J.D. Martinez) have managed to take home lucrative multi-year deals in spite of that reality, Abreu is on the old side for a free agent and isn’t quite in that Martinez echelon of offensive output. There’s also a fairly limited number of contending clubs that could be reasonably expected to make competitive bids on a first baseman or designated hitter, which wouldn’t have done the veteran slugger any favors in seeking out a new organization.
That’s not to say that Abreu isn’t a decidedly above-average hitter. He’s fresh off a strong .284/.330/.503 batting line and 33 home runs in 2019. The ChiSox likely feel they can pencil him in for another strong average and 25-plus home runs, as he’s only failed to reach that mark in an injury-shortened 2018 campaign (when he still launched 22 long balls in just 128 games). Abreu has spent six seasons in the big leagues and been an above-average hitter in each of them.