According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu is nearing a six-year, $68M deal with a major league team believed to be the Chicago White Sox. If the numbers hold and the deal becomes official, it would be the largest first-time contract ever for an international player.
Yes, it would be a deal even richer than those signed by Yaisel Puig, who received $42 million over seven years from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Yoenis Cespedes, who got a four-year, $36 million deal from the Oakland A's.
Here's a little more perspective on Abreu's potential deal from Rosenthal.
Abreu’s average annual value of $11.33M will be nearly twice that of Puig’s $6M. Cuban first baseman represented by Praver-Shapiro.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 18, 2013
According to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Texas Rangers were also believed to be in the mix, but Yahoo's Jeff Passan confirms the White Sox are the most likely destination.
Sources: Rangers not expected to sign Cuban 1B Jose Abreu. Won't go to $68M, the size of current six-year offer. Most speculate White Sox.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 18, 2013
Assuming it's the White Sox, it would be a hefty commitment for vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn, but in many ways it seems like a gamble worth taking. Most notably due to the instant success and popularity Puig and Cespedes have achieved in MLB.
He also fits a need with first baseman/designated hitter Paul Konerko contemplating retirement. The 26-year-old Abreu isn't the all around athlete that Puig and Cespedes are, so he'll be pretty much limited to those two positions in MLB. But the Cuban slugger can certainly do just that, as his .382 average with 13 home runs and a 1.270 OPS in 42 games this season would indicate. He was even better last season, hitting .394 with 35 homers and a 1.379 OPS in 71 Cuban games.
Another factor in their favor is the presence of Cuban-born players Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. At the very least, they should be able to help ease Abreu's transition in the clubhouse. They may even influence his decision.
As for the Rangers, they have Mitch Moreland to man first base and a handful of DH options, but would likely play Abreu every day. Their lineup is much deeper than Chicago's, so there would be less pressure to produce immediately. It's an interesting decision he'll be making in the next days or even hours, but regardless of where he lands, it will be a record-setting contract that will have people around the league talking all winter long.
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