Dayan Viciedo has played against Jose Abreu and said Tuesday he’d have no problem if the White Sox asked him to recruit the big Cuban first baseman.
Reports have surfaced over the last 24 hours that Abreu has defected from Cuba and is somewhere in the Caribbean looking to establish permanent residence.
With the success of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yaisel Puig, speculation is rampant Abreu would start a bidding war were he to become a free agent for Major League Baseball as is expected.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 258-pounder had a .360/.385/.760 slash line with three homers and nine RBIs in 25 at-bats in the World Baseball Classic earlier this season.
Abreu has put up gaudier numbers professionally in Cuba, where he previously played against Viciedo. The White Sox outfielder played for Villa Clara from 2005-07 and remembers playing against Abreu, 26.
“He’s a good hitter,” Viciedo said through a translator. “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.”
Abreu is very early in the process.
He must first establish residency and would have to be cleared by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, said Baseball America’s Ben Badler. At that point, Abreu could become a free agent.
Badler said it could take months.
The White Sox have made no indication whether or not they’d have interest in Abreu. Though the team could be in need of a first baseman in the near future. Paul Konerko is a free agent after this season, and Adam Dunn is under contract for only one more year.
The White Sox also have a strong history of signing Cuban players such as Viciedo and shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Puig signed a seven-year, $42-million deal with the Dodgers in June 2012. He has a .376/.442/.598 slash line with 11 homers, 26 RBIs, 45 runs scored and 27 extra-base hits in 60 games this season.
Viciedo is out of Monday’s lineup for the sixth time in eight games since he bruised his left thumb diving for a ball in an Aug. 5 game against the New York Yankees.
An MRI taken Monday on Viciedo’s thumb was negative, and the outfielder said he continues to improve.