So, why mention him now? Because it’s a name that should be on your radar,* if only so you’re not completely confused in the next month or so when some guy you’ve never heard of gets a huge contract to play Major League Baseball next season.
So, who is he? Abreu is a power-hitting first baseman out of Cuba. He’s 26, he’s defected, and it seems likely that he’ll sign with someone this offseason, maybe even within the next few weeks. Here’s an ESPN.com story full of scouts evaluating how Abreu’s game will translate to the big leagues. Basically, the defense is probably limited to first base, but the offensive power seems undeniable. There are some questions about his ability to hit offspeed pitches and good inside fastballs, but those are pretty typical concerns. As a general rule, most agree that Abreu can hit well enough to provide immediate middle-of-the-order production at the big league level.
So, who’s going to sign him? Well, today MLB.com reported that Abreu has narrowed his possible destinations to the Astros, Red Sox and White Sox. The Astros reportedly believe their offer fell short, and it seems the White Sox have emerged as the favorites to sign him for something approaching $70 million.
So, why not the Yankees? Because, frankly, they have more pressing concerns and more obvious needs. Abreu’s a power hitter — the Yankees need that — but he’s also a first baseman. And unlike with a Japanese posting fee, whatever money goes toward an Abreu contract would count toward the luxury tax. And even if the luxury tax weren’t an issue, the Yankees have significant questions at second base, third base, shortstop, right field, catcher, the rotation and the bullpen. Would a first baseman/designated hitter really make sense at a time like this? Is that where you’d start your offseason if you were Brian Cashman?
By all accounts, Abreu is a legitimate hitter, and he’s a name worth knowing. But it’s hard to imagine he’ll be playing for the Yankees next season.
* One nice thing about the comments section of this blog, I don’t really feel the need to point out every player and every scenario that’s out there. Abreu’s name has been mentioned many, many times on this blog, just not by me.
Associated Press photo