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.
The 26-year-olld Abreu, who defected this summer, 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.
---The San Francisco Giants could not come to terms on a two-year contract with right-hander Tim Lincecum and so the two-time Cy Young Award winner plans to test the free agent market, according to CSN Bay Area.
Lincecum can become a free agent five days after the World Series. The Giants' next step is to make Lincecum a qualifying offer, which is one year at roughly $14 million. That allows them to receive an extra draft pick as compensation if he signs with another team.
Lincecum may be interested in pitching for his hometown Seattle Mariners, who have a protected first-round draft pick.
---Major League Baseball announced the national broadcast schedule for the World Series, which begins next Wednesday at either Boston's Fenway Park or Detroit's Comerica Park on FOX.
The first two games of the World Series are in Boston or Detroit on Wednesday and Thursday. Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) shift to St. Louis or Los Angeles on Oct. 26-28. Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) go back to Boston or Detroit Oct. 30-31. All games are scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET except Game 4, which is slated for a 8:15 p.m. first pitch.
---Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray had surgery on his left thumb Thursday in Cleveland to repair a fracture that he sustained in the postseason.
Dr. Thomas Graham inserted a screw to stabilize the bone during the procedure at Cleveland Clinic Hospital. Gray was injured when he was hit by a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Detroit's Prince Fielder during Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Oct. 10. The rookie is expected to make a full recovery in time for spring training next year.
Gray finished the regular season with a 5-3 record and a 2.67 ERA in 12 games, including 10 starts, for the A's. In the ALDS, Gray worked eight scoreless innings in a Game 2 duel with Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander but did not pick up a decision.
---The Los Angeles Dodgers went into Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night in St. Louis without shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the lineup.
Ramirez, who is trying to play through the pain of a cracked rib, was replaced by Nick Punto. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly put Punto in the eighth spot in the batting order and moved up Yasiel Puig to bat cleanup in place of Ramirez.
The injury clearly has bothered Ramirez in the series, which the Cardinals led 3-2 going into Friday night. Ramirez had just two hits in 12 at-bats in the NLCS.
---Former first-round draft pick Taylor Guerrieri was suspended for 50 games as the result of a positive test for a drug of abuse, the commissioner's office announced Friday.
Guerrieri, a top-100 prospect selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, pitched for Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League this season before he sustained an elbow injury that will require reconstructive surgery. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the suspension was a second violation for what is believed to be marijuana use.
The 20-year-old Guerrieri, who received a $1.6 million signing bonus as the 24th overall pick in 2011, will begin serving the suspension at the start of next season.
---Thursday night's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers delivered a 5.4/9 national household rating (8.6 million viewers) on Fox, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That is 23 percent higher than last year's 4.4/8 (7.1 million viewers) for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Fox between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
Through five games, the ALCS on Fox is averaging a 4.7/8 national household rating (7.5 million viewers), which is 27 percent better than last year's 3.7/6 (5.9 million viewers) for the NLCS on Fox.