Stepping Down When It’s Best For The Team – The Promise of José Abreu


This week, former MVP baseball player, José Abreu, was sent down to the minor leagues.

It may not seem like significant news to a casual observer, as baseball players go minors to majors and back to minors often.

Here are articles with ESPN and Yahoo Sports.

For a former 3-time All-Star and MVP, who was the best player in the entire major leagues only 4 years ago, to suddenly be sent to the minor leagues, that is noteworthy and we must dissect The Promise from within this story of leadership.

Who are the Leaders keeping The Promise here?

First: The Coaches

Since when do we want an MVP to not play on our team?

Only the smartest, bravest, and gutsiest coaches know when it’s time to have a difficult conversation with those who were our best players and aren’t performing at their best, needing to make a drastic change.


Second: José Abreu

His numbers have slowly gone down month after month for 2 years. He knows he’s not playing at the level he’s capable of, and instead of putting up a fight, he not only agreed with the coach’s decision, but also encouraged it. He owned up to his lack of performance – this is The Promise in action.

His very words in the ESPN article were:

“You know what’s been the hardest thing for me? And I say this from the bottom of my heart — I feel embarrassed,” Abreu said in Spanish during last weekend’s series vs. the Colorado Rockies in Mexico. “The people in this organization brought me here to do a good job. I haven’t done that. The hard thing, too, is that my teammates see that I haven’t done my job, although they’ve always supported me, always been by my side. But I won’t stay down.”


Third: The Team

Others will step up. To see a leader, an MVP, go down (figuratively and literally) means the players on this team will begin to shine in his absence as their Signature Moves begin to manifest and be magnified.


Being sent to the minors is not necessarily a bad thing, although it is certainly humbling. It will allow the player to have more at bats, more opportunities to mess up in games that don’t have so much on the line, and putting himself in a new environment and team.

The secret is to view this change as a learning experience, to take pride in working on improvement while being humble enough to recognize the reason. Those who go to the minors with pride damaged by the demotion will continue to wallow in their lack of performance and nothing will change for the better.

And now we jump to the team at your work, where you lead, and perhaps you see the ailing former MVP who continues to strike out. Or hey, maybe it’s you? Yikes!

What is your promise if you are the Leader and see this happening?

What is your promise to the team, the “work family”, if a coworker is just phoning it in and not doing what they were once capable of, dragging morale and productivity down?

What is your promise if it’s you? The once MVP caliber All-Star who just can’t get it together, striking out consistently, once easy to attain success passing you by.

I have the great privilege of consulting with multiple companies and organizations, and currently am acting as president of many groups. It is an intimidating position to hold, but I thoroughly enjoy it as well since I get to apply The Promise to every work day in realtime with capable people.

Equally, I am dealing with people who are actual MVP’s in the making, as well as former MVP’s who still think they’re at the top of their game.

These are difficult conversations to approach with those who are not pulling their weight anymore, the home runs just aren’t happening, not even singles! While at the same time, it is bringing down the morale and culture of the entire organization as everyone watches strikeouts from the once legendary sluggers.

More challenging still is watching the future MVP’s in the making working as if their lives depend on it, putting in the hours, bringing up the numbers, and from my leadership perspective can be recognized a mile away as the soon to be MVP’s of the team.

Having the difficult conversations with the former MVP’s under performing  is painful.

Finding a former MVP who recognizes in themselves that they need more practice, performance evaluation, and are willing to accept hard decisions from management is a rarity.

The last month I have spent over 50 hours in performance evaluation one on ones and groups meetings. It never goes well when an MVP doesn’t accept honest evaluations due to pride and own perception of their greatness, unwilling to change agreements and be recommended for more at-bats.

This story resonated with me in a big way, that Abreu didn’t put up a public stink or fight, but rather acknowledged he needs to do what needs to be done, and with humility, goes to the minor leagues to recapture what once was. That’s a leader who understands The Promise across the board – for himself, for his team, for his profession.

If you are the struggling former MVP, do you have such humility to improve?

If you are the coach, do you have the tough conversation with the legend?

If you are the team, can you keep working to succeed despite the MVP who is striking out, knowing your turn is around the corner?

This is Your Leadership Promise – to identify, clarify, and magnify the Signature Moves of the people you lead. And sometimes that means: it is time to re-evaluate and re-direct those who once hit homers to head to the minors for a few more at-bats.


Enjoy SUBSCRIBING to my NEW YouTube Channel when you’re ready to improve upon Your Leadership Promise!

~ Jason Hewlett

Husband, Father, Writer, Mentor, Hiker

  • Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Mentor
  • World’s Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to teach The Promise
  • Author of “The Promise To The One”
  • President of Cardio Miracle.  Go to to take your health back! Use coupon code HEW2024 for 15% OFF your order.


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4 thoughts on “Stepping Down When It’s Best For The Team – The Promise of José Abreu”

  1. Michael Lowry

    I always a said when I was no longer having fun at my job, it would be time to go. The tipping point was watching the movie,”For the Love of the Game.” It is about a Major League Baseball player reviewing his life while pitching a game. He retires for the love of the game and pitches a no hitter.

    Recognizing it was time to go was not a hard decision when I saw the big picture.

  2. Love this article, Jason. The self-awareness combined with the humility and team first approach in this example are fantastic. These are signs of a true leader, regardless of whether he works his way back to the big league club or not, he’s taking responsibility for his performance and showing his teammates who comes first in his view. Great tie-in to the promise, thank you for sharing!

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