The White Sox won’t just hang on to Alexei Ramirez or Dayan Viciedo because they could act as a cultural attaché for fellow Cuban Jose Abreu.
There’s no doubt the team loves the idea of having at least one of Abreu’s countrymen on the roster to help him acclimate from Cuban culture to the majors. But they also wouldn’t hesitate to part with either of their potential liaisons were they presented with a strong trade offer.
Earlier this week at the general manager’s meetings in Orlando, Fla., multiple major-league executives confirmed the White Sox would consider trades for all but four players on their 25-man roster: Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
The club subscribes to a more-the-merrier concept to aid in Abreu’s transition to the United States, but the philosophy isn’t said to be a deal breaker. The White Sox have already had 16 Cuban players before Abreu, so the organization's members are confidence they can help the first baseman make a smooth adjustment.
“Having (Viciedo and Ramirez) around will help,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “I think being with an organization that has been through that transition process before with Alexei and Dayan will help. And having coaches familiar with that transition too should help. We’re going to do all we can. It’s still going to be a transition period for him, a new league, a new country and all new pitchers. We’re going to do everything we can to ease that process, but it’s going to take a little time.”
Even if the White Sox traded Ramirez and Viciedo, it wouldn’t leave Abreu as the only Spanish-first speaking player on the club.
Quintana hails from Colombia, Garcia is from Venezuela and Leury Garcia and Alejandro De Aza are from the Dominican Republic. Three of the four are 24 or younger and could be part of the team’s core for the next several seasons. The White Sox also plan to have Abreu lean heavily on batting practice instructor Lino Diaz, who doubles as a translator.
Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Monday his team pushed hard for Abreu -- who signed with the Sox for $68 million over six years -- because he believes the slugger can have an immediate impact. Hahn also thinks the team’s newest acquisition is capable of a strong campaign in 2014 but the club’s previous experiences tell him the transition won’t happen overnight and Abreu should be afforded some leeway.
“We did do the move with the long-term goal, the six-year deal, where we suspect over the length of it, as he gets more comfortable, gets to know the league more, the performance is likely only going to improve,” Hahn said. “Where there certainly is a potential given the high ceiling and the potential for him to have a big impact quickly, it’s really something we’re looking for over an extended period of time.”