Major-league baseball becomes more numbers driven by the year, whether it’s analyzing a basic batting average, WAR or international signing bonus pool money.
With Jose Abreu and whether or not the Chicago White Sox would trade him, the number to focus on is 31.
That will be Abreu’s age when the 2018 season opens, which is not a great cause for concern.
But when you consider how he fits with the rebuilding Sox, look at these numbers:
•Second baseman Yoan Moncada is 22 years old.
•Shortstop Tim Anderson is 24.
•Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito is 23.
•Starter Reynaldo Lopez is 23.
On the top prospect side:
•Outfielder Eloy Jimenez is 21.
•Starter Michael Kopech is 21.
•Outfielder Luis Robert is 20.
•Outfielder Blake Rutherford is 20.
•Starter Alec Hansen is 23.
•Catcher Zack Collins is 22.
Moncada, Anderson, Giolito and Lopez are already on the White Sox’s 25-man roster, and Jimenez, Kopech, Hansen and Collins could arrive in 2018 followed by Robert, Rutherford and 21-year-old third baseman Jake Burger.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn started a massive rebuild around this time a year ago, trading Chris Sale to the Red Sox and Adam Eaton to the Nationals. From July 13-Aug. 31, he traded nine veterans.
Abreu, the White Sox’s best hitter since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season, stayed put.
Is that about to change?
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Hahn is having “active talks with the Red Sox and others” on an Abreu trade.
Getting back to the numbers, Abreu is one of only three players in major-league history to have 25-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI in each of his first four seasons. Abreu is under contract for the next two years and is a proven commodity.
The question Hahn continues to weigh: does Abreu have more value with the White Sox or another team?
Hahn addressed the topic at the end of the season.
“He has had arguably his best year,” Hahn said of Abreu, who slashed .304/.354/.552 with 33 home runs and 102 RBI in 2017. “You can maybe put it on par with his rookie season. But I think you’ve seen some improvement from him defensively. He’s in great shape right now. Most of the improvement or change since he first got here, it’s been with his comfort level in that clubhouse and the role of leader he has assumed.”
Abreu was outstanding on and off the field this past season, but Hahn and the White Sox are all about the future.
The Sox already plucked Moncada and Kopech from Boston in the Sale trade. Would the Red Sox be willing to part with young talent such as Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers or Jackie Bradley Jr. for Abreu?
Hahn is in a great spot, because he can ask for two or three great young players for Abreu and play the waiting game until he gets his price.
At some point between now and the July 31 nonwavier deadline, the gut feeling here is Abreu gets traded.
• Twitter: @scotgregor