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Talking about José Abreu as if unimportant and already gone from the team with Pito in the room — as Rick Hahn did at his end-of-season press conference — means today’s news shouldn’t come as a shock. But it still does.
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The Gang says goodbye to Pito

The stove is hot, and we all just got burned

Since the news of José Abreu signing for three years and $60 million with the Houston Astros, fans have been grieving over the loss of our beloved first baseman. While many knew it was coming, and Rick Hahn has been telegraphing this loss since the end of the season, the Astros picking him up added salt to the freshly-opened wound.

The staff of South Side Sox decided it was best to memorialize Abreu. as we’re forced to say goodbye to an old friend.

Dante Jones

So, today SUCKS.

First the team signs Mike Clevinger, who’s had two Tommy John surgeries and is one of the most annoying players we’ve had the displeasure of rooting against, as he started his career as a Guardian (and got himself traded to the Padres after going out on the town during the 2020 pandemic season.) And now they let the player who has been the most consistent on- and off-field presence for the franchise since he arrived ... walk away.

José Abreu has been THE clubhouse leader through the good, the bad, and the absolutely abysmal. And now he gets to go to the defending World Series champion Astros, who the White Sox get to face on Opening Night. This team continues to prove that they do not care about anything that requires spending. And yeah, maybe Andrew Vaughn can be the first baseman the team wants him to be, but that’s a maybe — and Abreu was the definition of a consistent, known commodity.

Jacki Krestel

The news broke with a Bob Nightengale tweet.

So, obviously, I ignored it.

But then, Ken Rosenthal had it. And it was real. Fan favorite José Abreu was taking his talents to Houston and signing with the Astros. Three years, $60 million, and a sea of mourning White Sox fans left in his wake.

It’s hard to be mad at Abreu. This guy has spent the last nine seasons pouring his heart and soul into the White Sox organization, through 1,270 games. 243 home runs, three All-Star appearances, Rookie of the Year in 2014 and AL Most Valuable Player in 2020.

And what did the White Sox give him in return? Two measly playoff appearances that didn’t amount to anything. It wasn’t enough. Nor should it have been. He deserved so much more than Jerry Reinsdorf could ever give him. And now, with the Astros, he’s been given the opportunity to bring his specific brand of hustle and heart to a team with a real chance to get him a World Series ring.

The White Sox will still see Abreu on Opening Night this year, but he’ll be on the opposing team. (Because if a higher power exists, they clearly hate the Chicago White Sox.)

Godspeed, José. Thanks for everything.

Brian O’Neill

On April 26, 2014, White Sox rookie José Abreu hit a walk-off with two outs in the ninth. It was a cold day in what probably wasn’t going to be a good season, but I jumped out of my seat anyway. There was something special with this guy. It was rookie record for dingers in April — not a stat of song and legend, but still pretty cool.

The next day, walking on the North Side of Chicago wearing a Sox cap — we were going to the game that day — an old man looked at me, pumped his fist, and exclaimed “Abreu!” dragging out the UUUU with guttural joy. It felt like a shift, like a new star in town.

That star never dimmed. José was consistent, an all-time White Sox great, a fantastic hitter and an ever-improving fielder. He was warm and big-hearted and goofy, he opened the Cuban pipeline back up. He cared passionately. He wanted to win, and more than that, he wanted the White Sox to win. You could tell this meant something to him.

And now he’s gone. It’s gutting and heartbreaking. My biggest wish from this rebuild was seeing José at the center of a dogpile in late October, getting ready to hoist that trophy, knowing his work and seasons of losing paid off, his grin of joy statue-ready. A true Sox legend. Someone who lived up to his early promise. Someone who made being a fan worth it. He earned that joy. We deserved to see him experience it. The team is different now. A bit of that couch-jumping joy is gone.

Thanks for everything, José. You were our best.

Darren Black

Abreu was a force to be reckoned with in the batter’s box right away in 2014, to his last at-bat with the White Sox in 2022. He made the White Sox first base-greatness a trend (Frank Thomas to Paul Konerko to José Abreu), and now we hope Andrew Vaughn can continue the tradition. Abreu had always been a good hitter, and even in his down year when the Sox were losing on purpose, he still carried a big stick. It did get to the point in 2018 and ’19, I thought they should move on from him via trade. Grab those prospects, I said. And when his contract was up at the end of the 2019 season, again, I said, do not sign him. How wrong I was, but equally as glad he did not leave, and the Sox did the right thing and brought him back. I held out hope they would do it again.

Alas, 3 years at $60 million was too much. This does officially close the book for the three team greats who got their starts last decade getting absolutely diddly-squat in team success while they were here: Chris Sale, José Quintana, and Abreu. Abreu’s number should be retired, and I hope it is — he sure hits all the White Sox accolades to do it: MVP, ROY, multi-time All-Star, third all-time in team homers.

Retiring a number is a great way to sell tickets anyway, right Jerry?

Tommy Barbee

Unfortunately, I don’t think many will realize how dominant José Abreu was/is until now that he’s no longer on the White Sox. Divvy up the stat lines however you want, but despite entering the league at age 27, Abreu was one of the most dominant hitters in franchise history and deserved a real opportunity for a ring during his tenure.

Now Abreu will experience what it’s like to play for a real MLB manager in a real organization. My hatred for the Astros grows more profound, but it’s hard not to be happy for him. He needed the opportunity to move on.

Melissa Sage-Bollenbach

My Monday blues were a little darker upon hearing that José Abreu is signing a three-year deal with the Houston Astros. I’ll never forget how excited I was when I heard that the White Sox had inked Abreu in October 2013. Reports were that the bidding was intense, and I had pretty much given up on the idea that the South Side would land him. Once the deal was done, I was excited that my team was serious about winning and bringing in a player who could help us contend.

For almost an entire decade, Abreu has been a cornerstone at first base for our Sox. During that time, there were many transitions for the team, but Pito was always the constant. There was no need to even LOOK at the posted lineup each day; I knew that Abreu was there. He quickly became the father and heartbeat of this team, and he played with passion and conviction. I will miss his silly, goofy smile, and his sprinting off of the field.

This news has me experiencing various emotions, including frustration, anger, sadness, and happiness. I’m frustrated that the Sox created a logjam at first base that basically forced Abreu (who we know did not want to leave) to move on. I’m angry at a franchise that continues the ugly tradition of treating its all-time great players like crap; Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, and Mark Buehrle, to name a few. I’m sad that I never got to say a proper goodbye to one of my favorite players.

Lastly, though, I’m happy for José. He will finally play for a franchise that does what it takes to put a championship team on the field and creates a winning culture. He and we, as fans, deserved those things during his tenure in Chicago, but never got them. So, congratulations to you, No. 79! I will cheer for you even when you’re hitting against us, and I hope Houston fans appreciate the incredible player and human being they’re getting in you. You have my respect now and always, and I look forward to your jersey number retirement and statue unveiling ceremony.

Willie Pahos

For an organization with seemingly boundless loyalty (cough Leury García cough), seeing the White Sox let José leave in free agency is surprising from an operational standpoint, and stings even more as a fan. He was a perfect fit to take the torch from Paulie, and with his dependable leadership and steady production, it was clear he was the heart of the team. Thank you to José for actually making the rebuild bearable by giving us some quality offense, and injecting life into some very bad White Sox teams since 2014. I’ll miss seeing him in the 3-spot, keeping everybody in check, while also bringing the fun to the diamond each and every day. Good luck in Houston (barf) and keep doing your thing, Pito!

Chrystal O’Keefe

José Abreu was my gateway to the White Sox. I was just dipping my toes in the muddy puddle outside of Sox Park at the time, but loved Abreu. He was fun, charming, and had a red-hot bat that seemed to be unmatched. He quickly turned into a family favorite.

Yet some don’t fully understand the impact he had on the White Sox. Without Abreu keeping the Cuban Pipeline running, we would not have landed Luis Robert — and, in turn, Oscar Colás, Yoelqui Céspedes, and likely others to come.

Abreu was a captain in every sense of the word. The mentor for young players, a shining example of a great baseball player with an even better heart. He put everything into his career with the White Sox, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

I think we all knew it was time, but that doesn’t make the sting hurt any less. José, you’ll be deeply missed in the dugout with your silly antics, but also your stoic leadership. Please be kind on Opening Night, or hit a home run every at-bat. Whatever works best. Get your ring, Pito.

Brett Ballantini

Everyone here as eloquently expressed their thoughts on and memories of José Abreu, so I’ll channel some anger. Understanding that it may have been a decision driven by José himself — in denial of this inevitable parting, or the selflessness and humility we have come to know from him — but letting your unofficial captain and all-time franchise great (19th all-time in franchise WAR, and he’ll never get that 0.1 that would have pushed him to 18th) leave town without a final at-bat to let White Sox fans thank him is an all-time terrible call.

This isn’t an aging veteran on last legs (Paul Konerko) or a jerk (A.J. Pierzynski), but the top offensive player on last year’s team. PK and A.J. both got their accolades, actually twice, because the fear they’d leave was so great they were lauded before a re-signing.

Best recent comp for this chemistry crime is Mark Buehrle, who was still able to simply pushed aside for a similar, newer model (Buehrle is to John Danks as Abreu is to Andrew Vaughn). Buehrle had even come back to the White Sox to ask for a free-agent offer match of his Marlins deal rather than leave town; we all know Pito might have played in Chicago for free (or the steal-of-century equivalent, $10 million per instead of Houston’s $20 million?).

But, nope, there’s a Plan. Never mind that the Plans for a decade, and enveloping Abreu’s entire tenure here, have been for naught.

Actually, the only near-Plan that has worked has been the Cuban Pipeline, with players acquired via free agency (Luis Robert, Oscar Colás, Yoelqui Céspedes, Yasmani Grandal) or trade (Yoán Moncada).

But who started and made successful that Plan? José Abreu.

Kristina Airdo

Not only has José Abreu been one of the top players the White Sox have ever had, he brought so much fun, dependability, and leadership to a team that pretty much lacked all of the above. Let’s be real — Tony wasn’t the leader in that clubhouse, and before him Ricky, and before him Robin — and someone needed to be.

From his walk-off grand slam against the Rays in 2014, to his six homers in three games against the Cubs as he barreled towards his MVP award in 2020, José has been the face of the franchise. It’s a shame that the same GM that signed him is the same GM who’s too cheap to keep him, after all these years. I’m so happy that Pito is going to a team that actually has the capabilities to get to the playoffs and win games — but him going to Houston genuinely makes me want to throw up.

I’m going to miss the positive vibes Abreu brings to the clubhouse, watching him sprint off the field after three outs, and screaming around the bases to tap into a new dimension of his sprint speed (surely NOT reflected in his StatCast percentiles). Some might say that Abreu going to the Cubs would have been worse, but at the very least, the Cubs didn’t cheat to win the World Series.

Look at this: Rick has me sticking up for THE CUBS. That’s how you know it’s bad.

This feels like writing a eulogy, and really, it might as well be. You will be missed, José — MVPito forever!!

Tyrone Palmer

José Abreu is an all-time great Chicago White Sox. And he’s the first one I witnessed for his entire career. I can still remember the excitement I felt when they signed him. It was a rare instance of the Sox outbidding everyone for the top player on the market.

From there, I remember being there for his first at-bat. He hit a rocket to right for a double. The ball sounded different coming off of his bat, like cannon fire. It was my favorite part of attending games in person for a middling 2014 club. When he made contact, you just knew the Sox had a star on their hands.

For most of Abreu’s tenure, he was surrounded by mediocre talent, but he continued to show up every day and hit the hell out of the baseball. He played the game with unmatched professionalism and joy. It’s one of the few examples in my Sox fandom where a player lived up to and exceeded the expectations placed upon him.

One of the hopes of the rebuild was that one day José might get to be part of a winning ball club. It just sucks that it’ll have to happen in Houston.

I hate that this franchise wasted him. I hate that Hahn built a roster made up entirely of first basemen, DHs, and Leury García. I hate that I won’t get to see Abreu whipping the ball on a full sprint after catching the third out of an inning. I hate that I won’t get to look forward to #AugustAbreu this year.

Abreu is the type of player you love to root for. And that profile is in increasing short supply in this organization.

The vibes are bad.

Nello Rubio

While losing one of your favorite players on your favorite team to another team in free agency isn’t the same as actually losing your father or someone close to you due to a deadly virus, you do feel some numbness to the fact that something that was so consistent, something you loved, will no longer be there for you.

José Abreu was a constant professional and leader, who always did his job on the baseball field the right way, whether it be hitting, playing the field or being a leader to the Cuban contingent on the White Sox. Abreu was that and much more to not only himself, but his teammates and the many fans on the South Side of Chicago throughout his stellar, nine-year career with the team. In a lot of ways Abreu’s ability to know when it was OK or even needed to goof off and bring smiles to teammates, coaches and fans at just the right times to lighten up the mood is why he rubbed off so well on everyone and was someone everyone loved so much.

In a lot of ways, Abreu reminds me of how my father was in terms of how he approached his work: Always do it the hard and right way, but don’t be afraid to be that goofy and comic relief everyone needs at certain points, lighting up the room with his presence. That’s among the many reasons José was not only one of my favorite players with the Sox, but one of my Mom’s as well. It is hard for not only so many of us here with at South Side Sox, but a lot of members of our families as well, to see such a beloved and great player as Abreu no longer with the team. Whether it be Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera with the Yankees, Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers, Chipper Jones with the Braves or Roberto Clemente with the Pirates, there are certain players you associate with only one team. Most thought that Abreu would end up the same way — Jerry Reinsdorf promised that to Pito directly, several times — but now, we will see him in another uniform besides the White Sox. It’s somewhat baffling.

Allie Wesel

There is a lot to be said about a player who was viewed as the heart of the White Sox for the last eight years. José Abreu was the first prospect I remember my grandfather talking with me about. He told me we were getting a stud from Cuba, and that he was going to be the next big thing on the South Side. I hung onto to every word he had to say about this magical prospect, and when he was signed I was equally as happy.

Abreu changed the White Sox organization from the moment he got here. Day-in and day-out he proved he was a competitor who would do whatever it took to win a ballgame. Game on the line? I hoped José was coming up to bat.

I hope he is cherished and appreciated like the sweet human being he is, because lord knows the White Sox did not do it enough. During these difficult times I will be thinking about his sprints back to the dugout after the final out of an inning, his beard ponytail, and him sliding across the dugout because he was in a goofy mood.

I remember Mark Buehrle leaving. I remember the Chris Sale trade. What I don’t remember is how much it hurt to watch such key pieces of a team depart. Abreu is a player that any team would be lucky to have, and while it stings it’s the Astros, I can’t help but be incredibly happy for him. Happy he can go to a team that, albeit some cheating, finds its way to the postseason repeatedly.

Hannah LaMotta

I was 12 years old when José Abreu first joined the White Sox. At the time, I was also a big Paul Konerko fan, so the thought of someone else taking his place didn’t feel too good.

I remember in Paulie’s last year and Abreu’s first year in 2014, the two of them would alternate at first base. I remember being like, hey, who is this guy! Why is he taking Konerko’s spot! Safe to say I was a little bitter at first.

Little did I know that Abreu would be one of my favorite players to ever play for the White Sox. I grew up with Abreu. As my love for the game grew and I got older, I started to understand the sport more and realize just what a good guy, teammate, and player he was.

Even in the lost years where we sat at the bottom of the standings, José always stood out. He was that guy that hustled 24/7 on every play. He was that guy who you saw in the lineup every single day. He was that guy who was in the dugout smiling and dancing after every exciting play. He was the guy who you knew that even if he wasn’t feeling the best or had an injury, he would sprint right out there and give it his all. He was a leader and a mentor to all of the rookies who came into this ball club over the years. He played with a constant passion and fire that is hard to find sometimes.

With the way that this last year has gone, this is really the icing on top of the cake — and it’s not a tasty cake. Although it had to happen eventually, I can’t help but wonder whether Abreu would still be here if the team had better results over the last year. It’s frustrating, sad, and bittersweet.

I couldn’t have asked for a better guy to serve as our first baseman for so long. I am glad that throughout the last decade or so I was able to see him so many times in person. Unfortunately, I feel like I have to root for Houston now, because I really want him to get at least one ring before he retires.

Best of luck, José!

Jordan Hass

I cannot comprehend a team that would allow one of their greatest players to just leave, and they’ve done it twice now in this century.

Frank Thomas made a little sense, as he was coming off an injury. But to let José Abreu — the leader of the team, the best hitter on the team — walk for nothing is incompetent, borderline negligent. This is a team that kept Paul Konerko playing well past his best days, and yet it couldn’t scrounge up the cash to pay their MVP.

Whatever, this is supposed to be about José, so I’ll stop ragging on Jerry and Co. for now.

José Abreu was the first Sox star who I have gotten to see for his entire career on the South Side (I guess Chris Sale, too, but he wasn’t here as long). Mark Buehrle, Konerko, Thomas, I was too young or not alive to see the beginnings of their careers, but José was something special. I remember the day he signed, he was going to be the heir apparent as the leader of this team, and he was that and more. He had an energy that couldn’t be matched, and seemed to be a great mentor for all the Cuban players who he almost certainly helped attract. And he was a fantastic baseball player! He deserved better than what he got — eight years of middling-to-bad baseball capped off by two great years and then another stinker was not what he should have gotten out of this team. I know we need space for Andrew Vaughn, but a good GM makes the room on the roster and in the budget for a guy like Pito.

As much as I hate the Astros, I hope Abreu can get his ring there. And if he’s not the next White Sox player to get his number retired, I don’t want to be a fan of this team anymore.

Joe Resis

Abreu caught my attention shortly after his White Sox debut. It was clear early on that this guy could hit. In his first month as a major leaguer, Abreu had a .953 OPS, which he would (incredibly) improve upon during his rookie season, as he finished with a .964 OPS. As a result, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Abreu should win Rookie of the Year, and he earned all 30 first-place votes for the award.

Despite Abreu’s dominance, the 2014 White Sox struggled to a 73-89 finish, and they never sniffed playoff contention. With how likable Abreu became early on, I hoped that the White Sox would be able to build around him. Unfortunately, that did not happen. While they ultimately scraped together two playoff teams during Abreu’s White Sox tenure, the organization largely failed to create a true winner in the nine years he was in town. Nothing would have made me happier than a World Series title with Abreu putting on a show at Guaranteed Rate Field, just as his predecessor, Paul Konerko, did. This time, however, it was not meant to be.

While it is natural to feel upset about the White Sox’s lack of success despite Abreu’s excellent tenure, I cannot help but feel some relief on Abreu’s behalf. He is finally heading to an organization that has proven time and time again that it has what it takes to build a consistent contender. I am hard-pressed to think of an active player without a ring who deserves one more than Abreu. Best of luck reaching MLB’s ultimate prize in Houston, José.

We know that all of you have your feelings about losing our leader, too. Feel free to share in our comments. The online wake will carry on all week.

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