Report: Cuban slugger Abreu close to record deal with White Sox

Report: Cuban slugger Abreu close to record deal with White Sox
October 17, 2013, 10:45 pm
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The White Sox have agreed to terms on a record deal with Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, per multiple reports on Thursday night.

FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Abreu, 26, has finalized a six-year deal worth $68 million. MLB.com confirmed Rosenthal’s report and said the deal is pending a physical. The reported deal is the largest ever first-time contract given to an international player surpassing the contracts given to Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

General manager Rick Hahn declined to comment Thursday night on whether or not the team is part of the bidding process for Abreu.

“We don’t comment on rumors,” Hahn said in an email.

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Aside from the physical, a deal likely won’t be finalized until at least Monday because Major League Baseball prefers teams don’t announce news and disrupt postseason play. The next scheduled day off is Monday as the World Series begins on Tuesday.

The White Sox have been interested in Abreu -- who had a .360/.385/.760 with three homers and nine RBIs in 25 at-bats in the 2013 World Baseball Classic -- since it was reported he left Cuba in August.

One of the team’s main objectives this offseason is to revamp an offense that finished last in the American League in runs scored in 2013 only one season after they produced the fourth-most runs. The team’s poor performance at the plate led to the dismissal of hitting coach Jeff Manto in late September.

Abreu has the potential to help reshape the offense as many reports suggest he has 30-plus home run power.

The right-handed hitter also fits the team’s long-term plan in several other ways.

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After the 2014 season the White Sox have no first baseman under contract as Adam Dunn is headed into his final season before free agency. Veteran Paul Konerko is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series.

Hahn also stated late last month the team had money to spend in free agency but preferred a player who would be part of the team’s long-term core, which Abreu could be given he’s only 26.

“We're going to shy away from any short-term fix,” Hahn said. “It's going to be getting this thing right so that on an annual basis, we're in a position to contend for the postseason. If a free agent this year fits, a big name, high-priced free agent is not just going to be for '14, it's going to be with a vision for the next several years thereafter as well.”

Abreu has been a much-ballyhooed prospect over the past two months but scouts are reportedly divided on what he can do in the majors. The White Sox liked what they had seen on tape and apparently what they saw when Abreu worked out for teams in September.

They also had a strong scouting report from Abreu’s countrymen, Dayan Viciedo, who played in several tournaments with the slugger. Viciedo said in August he would try to recruit Abreu for the Sox if asked.

“He’s a good hitter,” Viciedo said. “He’s always been representing Cuba in international tournaments and he’s always been good. I wouldn’t go past that in saying anything else. But he’s a good hitter. … He has good talent.”