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What if Jose Abreu had chosen the Red Sox over the White Sox?

Jul 9, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

BOSTON — Jose Abreu has enjoyed his first look at Fenway Park, the historic venue that very nearly was his home.

While the first-time All-Star said Tuesday he left the free agency process that brought him to the White Sox to his agent, Barry Praver, multiple sources said the Boston Red Sox were a very serious player for the first baseman’s services.

Ultimately, Abreu signed a six-year, $68-million deal with the White Sox, who have begun to emerge from the depths of a 99-loss season in part because of how the slugger has brought vitality to an offense that failed to score 600 runs in 2013.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told the Boston Herald on Monday he knew of the Red Sox interest in Abreu, an attraction that was in part kept out of the spotlight because of Boston’s postseason run.

[MORE: Abreu, Ventura believe Viciedo has untapped potential]

Given how Abreu has energized the franchise, Hahn doesn’t know how the White Sox offseason would have gone had the Cuban free agent wound up in Boston, which reportedly offered only $5 million less.

“It’s tough to know exactly what would have followed had we not been able to convert on that deal,” Hahn said on Tuesday. “But it certainly addressed a very important hole for us and plugged a need for the next several years and allowed us to sort of move on to some other (moves). Whether we would have been able to plug that hole through other moves, hard to say. But certainly its pretty safe to say it wouldn’t have been as strongly as we were able to by getting the deal done.”

An All-Star in his first season, Abreu’s arrival was significant for several reasons. First and foremost, the White Sox added a middle-of-the-order bat at the start of his physical prime, a player Paul Konerko has described as a rookie without being a rookie.

Given this is Abreu’s first go-round through the league, the White Sox feel as if they’ve tapped into a gold mine.

[ALSO: Dunn hopes Monday’s effort starts heat wave]

Even though he’s seeing many pitchers for the first time and acclimating to life in a new culture and a new league, Abreu has already clubbed 27 home runs. He also has become a leader by example in the clubhouse and the team believes there’s more growth potential as Abreu learns English.

Then there’s the other aspect — Abreu came at only the cost of money.

The White Sox didn’t have to surrender any draft picks to sign Abreu because no team held his rights, nor did they have to use any of their own players to acquire him in a trade. That proved valuable in December when the White Sox traded Addison Reed for third-base prospect Matt Davidson and Hector Santiago for leadoff man Adam Eaton.

Hahn likes to joke that his selling point to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on the Abreu deal was ‘Its just money.’ ”

“But there’s some truth to that,” Hahn said. “Obviously it was very real money and would put a significant dent into our payroll, especially if it hadn’t gone right. But ultimately it didn’t cost us any other assets. That was a big part of the reason we were willing to take that risk, because it was just cash.”

In need of revitalizing an aging offensive core, the White Sox liked Abreu so much they gave him an international-record deal at the time. Some early estimates suggested Abreu would fetch in the $40 million range. But Praver said in November five teams crested $60 million in pursuit of Abreu.

Boston was one of the closest, Hahn told the Herald.

“I certainly felt there were numerous teams, any of whom could jump up and jump over us or push us to a higher level,” Hahn told the Herald. “After the fact, we got a better sense of who was there and where they were going, and it turns out there were several teams, not just us and Boston, that were awfully aggressive and pretty close to where we were at the end.”

[MORE: Hahn keeping trade deadline plans close to vest]

Asked how close the Red Sox were to signing him, Abreu said through Lino Diaz, the team’s manager of cultural development, that he didn’t want to know. But he would agree that he is impressed with Fenway and it’s storied past.

“I am aware of the history and to be honest with you it is an honor to play here,” Abreu said. “And given the age and everything, it’s a place that has a great environment to play in. It’s an honor to play here for the first time.”

Hahn doesn’t want to think about any what ifs.

He and the White Sox are ecstatic to have Abreu on board. That, and he has already seen a preview of what 2014 might have looked like with Abreu and wasn’t happy with the image.

“I didn’t like how it looked those two weeks he was on the (disabled list),” Hahn said. “So hopefully had we not signed him we would have found another way to try to plug that hole and it would have looked a little different than it (has). But obviously he’s a huge cog in that lineup and hopefully will be for the next five-plus seasons.”

  1. irishlad19 - Jul 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    The Red Sox believed they had their 1st baseman in Napoli, but they don’t have HR hitting in the minors ready for the majors, so they should have tried harder.
    They’ll need a DH after next season, Papi can’t last forever.

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Napoli was only one a year deal and would have had to play elsewhere…

      • irishlad19 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Understood, but after he hit well last season I suspect they felt he could be re-signed for a few more years.
        Not saying I agree, but that may have been why they didn’t pursue more help.
        They were too quiet last winter, obvious now.

  2. moogro - Jul 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    The guys in the video look silly. Good article.

  3. karlkolchak - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Given how pitiful their farm system usually is, the ChiSox knew they had to step on on the foriegn market or suffer years of wretchedness. Now, they might just be a couple of decent pitchers away from being contentders.

  4. jerze2387 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    i read somewhere that Boston was looking at Abreu as a 3rd baseman

    If he can play 3rd, I dont see why the White sox dont use him there. gillespie is horrible and they could have Dunn, Konerko, and abreu in the lineup together more often. Even put Viciedo at 3rd, just get rid of gillespie.

    • paperlions - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      He can’t play 3B. He’s below average (and was expected to be so) at 1B.

    • dchristy12345 - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      1. He can’t play 3rd, otherwise he would have played there for Cuba…and the White Sox would have given him time over there in Spring Training.
      2. Gillaspie’s hitting .317, which is a higher BA than every 3B in baseball not named Adrian Beltre or Casey McGehee, and is middle-of-the-pack in fielding percentage. Not sure how these stats qualify as horrible.
      3. Dunn and Konerko in the same lineup didn’t work out for the Sox in 2011, 2012 or 2013. When Abreu was out, they both played in the same lineup in 2014 and (surprise!) did poorly. Robin’s taken the hint, you should, too.
      4. Dayan Viciedo committed 30 errors in DOUBLE-A…and you’d prefer him at 3B in the big leagues? They moved him from 3B for a reason, and that reason is because he was terrible defensively.

      • jerze2387 - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        1. Probably your most solid point

        2. He platoons against righties, basically. Hes only played in 65 of 91 games so far, so thatll help his average. against LHP hes hitting .200! His BABIP is .366 which is going to come down. Plus its the exception, not the rule, based off his history. Last year in 130 games he hit .245. He has no power for a corner infielder and hes slow on the bases

        Im just saying theres got to be better options. Itd be worth a try when you have essentially 3 first basemen on the roster (possibly 4. We’ll get to that later.)

        3. Ever think maybe it was the pitching staff? and when abreu was out is the key. Its not about dunn + konerko vs abreu as it is Dunn/konerko vs gillespie. id rather have dunn or konerko than gillespie out there.

        4. Viciedo is TERRIBLE in the outfield too. He has a good arm, but he misses a lot of fly balls. i was at the game on the 4th when he whiffed on the cano double, and that was a familiar sight. He should be hidden at 1 of the Infield corners to at least mitigate the damage, An error at 3rd would most likely be a single. In the outfield its a double or a triple. Plus, an outfield of Eaton, De Aza and Sierra would be pretty decent in terms of defense and speed. De Aza has some pop, sierra has come up big at times, and Eaton is Eaton

    • dchristy12345 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Good counterpoints, jerze. Allow me to respond in kind…

      I don’t believe power or speed out of the 3B position is essential, especially for a team who traded for their future 3B in the offseason. Heck, McGehee might be an All-Star and he only has 1 HR this year. I don’t believe Gillaspie’s numbers are all that bad, so I believe he’s the best option the Sox have at third until Matt Davidson can work out some of the swing-and-miss in his game down at Charlotte. I also believe it’s not a good idea to reference past stats from a player who’s only halfway thru his 2nd full year in the majors and use them as the norm. I wouldn’t pigeon-hole a 26 year old like that.

      I believe Dunn and Konerko’s hitting poorly and clogging the bases when they did hit is independent of a pitching staff’s performance.

      Yes, Viciedo’s god-awful in the OF, but the answer can’t be putting him back at a position where he’s already failed miserably. You can live with a corner OF’s poor performance in the field as long as he brings it on the offensive side (see: Lee, Carlos…or Dunn, Adam in the NL). I think that if the Sox don’t trade him (and as inconsistent as he’s been offensively, remember, he’s still only 24), Viciedo’s either at 1B or DH next year. That’ll give Abreu a day off from the field here and there, and it’ll keep Viciedo where he can do the least damage defensively. I have no issue with a De Aza/Eaton/Sierra OF late in games this season, but don’t get too attached to De Aza or Sierra. I don’t believe that De Aza having “some pop” or Sierra coming up big “at times” will help them win that LF job next season.

  5. dchristy12345 - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    If Abreu had chosen the Red Sox over the White Sox, I’d imagine the productivity from White Sox first basemen this season would be brutal.

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