A season from free agency, Abreu hopes to win with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — In his last season before becoming eligible for free agency, Jose Abreu thinks the Chicago White Sox can transform into a winning team.

“I’m excited because this year we’re in a good position to compete,” said the first baseman said through an interpreter Monday on the reporting day for position players. “We have a lot of talent. We’re getting ready for the point where we’re going to be a pretty good team. I think that this can be that year where we start showing what we can do.”

Abreu was an All-Star last season, but he got hurt in the second half and finished with 22 homers, 78 RBIs and a .265 average, all career lows since arriving from Cuba before the 2014 season. It was the first time in five seasons he did not have 100 RBIs.

Chicago lost 100 games last season and the best record for the White Sox in the last five years was 78-84 in 2016.

“I am excited also because I know the quality of people we have here,” he said. “I just want to get on the field and play and show all the people what we can do.”

The White Sox also traded for Yonder Alonso, a fellow Cuban who will split time with Abreu at first and at DH. Alonso hit .250 with 23 homers and 83 RBIs for AL Central champion Cleveland last season.

“I’ve known him a long time and we’re on the same page, just here trying to help this team in whatever capacity asks of us,” Abreu said.

Manager Rick Renteria doesn’t foresee any difficulties in deciding time at first base and DH.

“Matchups will play a part in it but you do have two pretty good first basemen now,” he said.

Abreu was part of the White Sox contingent that met during in December with free agent infielder Manny Machado, Yonder Alonso’s brother-in-law.

“It was an outstanding conversation,” Abreu said. “Ricky and I talked to him. We talked to him about the organization, our plan, what we want to accomplish here. And he got it. He understood that. We would like to have him. But if we don’t get him, I think we’re going to be OK, too, because we have guys with talent that can play.”

Abreu will earn $16 million, a raise of $3 million. He is among the free-agents-to-be monitoring the market.

“I would like to stay with this organization forever,” he said. “But that is one of the things that I can’t control right now.”