The $68 million dollar question that no one yet can answer definitively:
Can he hit?
Evidence suggests that Mr. Abreu can. That’s based on his own career in Cuba, in the WBC, and by inference on the performances of fellow exiles in the MLB, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes.
In late October, Jose Abreu signed a six-year contract with the Chicago White for a total of $68 million. In addition to a signing bonus of $10 million — walking around money for the new import — Abreu will earn $7 million per in 2014 and 2015, before gradually escalating up to $12 million in 2019.
These days, that reads like chump change.
If he can hit.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn talked about it this way:
“I was talking about [the risk] with a GM of another club and he pointed out every free-agent deal has a risk and comes with potential for down side. You can choose to sit and do nothing, which is the safest route, or aggressively address need. For players who haven’t played in the states, it’s a calculated risk, but one we had to take. If we are going to get this thing right, and get it done as quickly as we want it done, we are going to have to be bold and be aggressive.”
To me, that sounds exactly right. We thought it at the time, when the Mets situation at 1B looked to be more “morass” than “logjam,” and said so: sign Abreu.
And then sign Granderson.
And then keep going.
”That didn’t really seem like the point of need. If he played left or right field, yeah, I think we probably would have offered the guy a contract.”
But imagine the buzz. Imagine the lineup. Imagine the ticket sales, the risk, and the upside. Young, Murphy, Wright, Granderson, Abreu, d’Arnaud, Lagares, SS, Pitcher. That would have been exciting, if, you know, he could hit.
And there would still have been the $10-12 million leftover that’s currently on the table.
Back in August, Mike, you wrote this:
“Signing Abreu would be a signal to the fan base that the ownership is serious about winning and that they are solvent. It has been years since either of those things have been clear. We hear nonsense about how winning a few more games the rest of the way will invigorate that same fan base. You want to invigorate the fans, make a committed move. Considering our market, how low our payroll has dropped, and our need for a player like this, it’s sad how hard this gets looked at. You mention the bad signing of Kaz Matsui. Yes, sure, that did not work out, the money was virtually a waste. But so what? Stuff happens. We signed Kaz to a three-year deal after the 2003 season and that move killed us so bad we had our only Division win this century, in 2006. We took our losses on Kaz and moved on, as a solvent business does when it has an individual problem. Eventually every move can’t be do-or-die, because you die from the inactivity the associated fear creates.”
And I replied:
“Of course, neither of us believe the Mets will do it.”
Abreu turned out to be a bargain. Non-tender Davis, don’t sign Chris Young, sign Abreu. Expense is roughly the same for 2013.
Yes, no draft picks either, and he’ll be cheap five years from now.
If he can hit. But everybody is a risk. Everybody.
Chris Young was a huge risk — and promises were made. Sandy flew out there and looked Chris Young in the eye and guaranteed him ABs. How could that possibly go wrong, I wonder. All to a guy we’ll have for one punt year.
But does Abreu walk enough? I’m serious, that could have been their issue.
I’m sure he doesn’t. After all, he made it off the island.