The Chicago White Sox
agreed to a six-year, $68 million contract with Cuban free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu on Friday, according to multiple reports.
It is the largest initial free-agent contract ever given to an international player.
It is also considered a risky move by the White Sox because Abreu is relatively unknown. However, Abreu does have an even better track record in Cuba than the Oakland A's Yoenis Cespedes
and the Los Angeles Dodgers
' Yasiel Puig
Abreu batted .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBIs in 63 games in the 2010-11 season, while missing time with a shoulder injury. The previous season, he batted .399 with 30 home runs and 76 RBIs.
Abreu, 26, defected this summer.
He is expected to take over as the White Sox first baseman. Paul Konerko
is a free agent and was scheduled to discuss his future with general manager Rick Hahn.
Abreu, who is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, batted .360 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 25 at-bats in the World Baseball Classic in March.
To afford Abreu, the White Sox shed about $40 million from their payroll, including trading right-hander Jake Peavy
to the Boston Red Sox and sending outfielder Alex Rios to the Texas Rangers
. Konerko made $13.5 million this season while pitcher Gavin Floyd earned $9.5 million in the final year of his contract.
The White Sox, who were last in the American League in runs scored, are trying to add power to their lineup. In addition to the right-handed hitting Abreu, Chicago also got outfielder Avisail Garcia in the Peavy trade, which should boost the middle of the order.
Several teams were interested in Abreu, including the Rangers, Red Sox, Houston Astros
, Miami Marlins
and San Francisco Giants
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