Monday, August 12, 2013

Cuban Slugging First Basemen Jose Abreu Defects

Jose Abreu has defected from Cuba and is somewhere in South America declaring citizenship as the first step in signing with a major league club. This process usually takes months, if not years in the Rafael DePaula situation, which slots him to be available to sign right in the heart of the winter meetings and free agency for the 2014 season.

Abreu is in his age 26 season which makes him a true free agent and will not affect a teams international free agent spending pool and cap. Abreu is a big guy listed at 6'2" and 258 lbs which translates, reportedly, into 30 home run power in the states with a high batting average. Like most Cuban defectors he is prone to breaking stuff, especially off the plate, and looks to be strike out friendly in the majors. Abreu is right handed, which is not considered to be ideal for a first basemen, and is a borderline defensive liability in Cuba which means he may be Manny Ramirez at first in the states. The Yankees may like him as a designated hitter and platoon/bench/fill in player though depending on his price.

This season Abreu put up an insane triple slash of .382/.525/.735 to follow up another insane triple slash last season of .394/.542/.837. Even if this guy had a drastic decline from his Cuba numbers to the majors he is still a .300/.420/.650 guy and that is worth a ton both in years and total value. He should attract a ton of attention in a weak market for first basemen with Kendrys Morales and Mike Napoli as the big name first base free agents for 2014. Speculation has already started that Abreu may command a contract in the $70,000,000 range for six or seven years which is a scary commitment for a guy with no big league experience, no defense, and no assurances that he can adjust to major league pitching, specifically the breaking stuff.

I think the Yankees ultimately pass on Abreu unfortunately as with that kind of committment he would have to be played in the majors right away. The Yankees already have Mark Teixeira penciled in at first base and I cannot see them putting a ton of money into a guy to be a designated hitter for the foreseeable future. As much as I am going to hate seeing him jacking home runs out of some stadium next season knowing that the Yankees could have had him I ultimately understand, even as a self proclaimed greedy fan. I can see a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, and of course the Los Angeles Dodgers at least kicking the tires on Abreu among other teams so it should be interesting to see how this unfolds. Stay tuned.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)