>It was a great day on the Southside of Chicago the other day, when the White Sox finalized a six year $68 million contract with 26 year old Cuban slugger Jose Abreau. The contract calls for Abreau to receive a $10 million signing bonus as part of the deal. He is set to earn $7 million in his first two seasons, then earn $ 10 million in 2016, $ 10.5 million in 2017, 11.5 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019.; The contract is a record amount for a first-time international player and it surpassed the previous highs of $60 million given to Texas Rangers; Yu Darvish, and $42 million paid to the Los Angeles Dodgers Yaisel Puig. Marco Paddy, the team's Head of International Operations, scouted Abreau many times, and even Executive Vice President Kenny Williams traveled to the Dominican Republic to attend a workout by Abreau. They, along with White Sox General Manager, Rick Hahn, believe that he is worth the risk and can help quickly turn around an offense that was dead last in runs scored in the American League in 2013. “When you make a sizable investment in a premium free agent it comes with some sort of potential for downside“, Hahn said. “It’s really a matter of choosing: are you going to sit and do nothing, which is the safe route, or are you going to try to aggressively address your needs?” “While yes there is some risk making a commitment to a player who hasn’t played in the states, it’s a calculated risk. It was one we felt we had to take. If we’re going to get this thing right and we’re going to do it as quickly as we want it done and quickly as White Sox fans want it done.”
Abreau said a lot of things played a part in signing with the White Sox, and he thinks having fellow Cubans, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, helping him out with getting used to being here is one of them, “I know there were other teams interested, but the support I would have from Cuban players like Alexei and Dayan, and the fact from the beginning the White Sox were interested and showed interest, once the final decision came down to where it’s going to be, it was the White Sox, “Abreau said through a translator.
Since Abreau is a First Baseman/ DH type, what does this mean for Captain, Paul Konerko, who also plays the same positions? Well, Konerko doesn’t know yet if he is coming back for one more year or retiring. The team also has Adam Dunn, who mostly plays DH, but can play first base too. “You figure out a way to do it“, White Sox Manager, Robin Ventura said. “I can’t sit here and say exactly how it would work, but if they’re on a roster you find a way to make it to work and keep guys sharp and playing.”
One American League scout thinks Abreau is the best pure hitter ever to come from Cuba, and says he expects him to bat .300 with 25-30 home-runs a year. Time will only tell for sure.