White Sox, Rangers in pursuit of Abreu

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox continued to close in on adding free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu to their roster.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the latest to suggest the White Sox were indeed the front-runner for the 26-year-old Abreu’s services. Via Twitter, Rosenthal reported that Abreu was close to signing a six-year, $68 million deal and that the deal is “expected” to be with the White Sox.

Earlier reports by ESPN’s Buster Olney and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez mentioned the White Sox among the finalists for Abreu’s services. Olney then reported that the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros were likely out of the running, leaving the White Sox as the favorite in the pursuit of the Cuban slugger.

But a separate MLB.com report, as well as a report from cbssports.com, suggested that the Texas Rangers remained interested and were in a duel with the White Sox to land Abreu’s services.

Abreu’s offensive production in Cuba is said to be greater than what Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig were able to deliver in their native country. In the World Baseball Classic this past spring, Abreu batted .360 (9-for-25) against international competition with three home runs and nine RBIs.

If Abreu is signed by the White Sox, it could mean the end of Paul Konerko’s tenure on the South Side. Konerko is a free agent but is still deciding if he wants to retire or return to baseball next season. Before the season ended, general manager Rick Hahn said he expected to sit down with Konerko face to face to talk about the future.

By adding the right-handed hitting Abreu, the White Sox would be in position to improve their offensive numbers against left-handed pitching. The White Sox were last in all of baseball in runs scored against left-handers with 138, 27th in OPS at .671 and 25th in home runs with 32.