The Chicago White Sox aren’t taking finishing in the cellar lightly. They appear to be making a strong move toward American League Central contention sooner than later. According to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com, multiple media sources (AP, MLB.com, FOX) are reporting that Cuban defector Jose Abreu has agreed to a 6-year, $68M deal to play on the South Side of Chicago. It would be the largest contract ever for an International free agent.
Abreu looks the part of major league slugger, but will his bat speed translate?(Credit: radiorebelde.cu)
Reports surfaced toward the end of August that Abreu had left the isle of Cuba, but talks never heated up to play in 2013. He was a star for the disappointing Cuban National team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, here’s an example of his power against an overmatched China (via YouTube/2013WBCHighlights):
The 250 pound, 26-year-old (will be 27 on 2014 opening day) figures to replace the White Sox venerable 1B Paul Konerko, whose contract expired in the offseason. Konerko has been with the Pale Hose for 14 seasons and is the last remaining member of the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Champion team.
There are concerns with the level of competition that Abreu has played to date, being sheltered with only limited International play as a benchmark. If Abreu follows the leads of fellow Cuban defectors Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, he might find himself in the All-Star game, or even playoffs his rookie season.
- David Whitlock
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