October 10, 2013

Jose Abreu, Cuban Defection, and Major League Baseball

While current reports indicate that the Mets will not be interested in pursuing Cuban defector Jose Abreu, he will certainly be under contract by a Major League team by the start of spring training next season. He'll draw the interest of quite a few clubs looking to fill offensive holes with his power. But what are the risks? And how much can we learn about from players who have defected from Cuba before they play in even minor league games?

Abreu, 27, held a showcase for scouts and teams in the Dominican Republic last week. According to the NYDN, Abreu will be seeking a contract in the six year range, at around ten million a year. That's going to be a big commitment for whomever he signs with. While their is more to go on than his showcase (Abreu spent a lot of his career playing with the Cuban national team, including at the 2013 WBC), and he did torch the Cuban league while he played, it is a little bit of an unknown how he will fair when he hits the MLB.

Signing Cuban defectors has been a spotty, hit-or-miss scenario for Major League teams. It's easy to remember the successes: think Yasiel Puig most recently, Yoenis C√©spedes and Aroldis Chapman in just the last few years. Also of note are some of the better players of the last few decades, including Orlando and Livan Hernandez. However, on the same list of defectors you'll find quite a few players who had poor MLB careers, and many who never progressed past the minors.

All I'm saying is, yes, the Mets should be looking for a power bat. There is going to be some consternation among the fan base that they won't be seriously pursuing Abreu, but I'm okay with that. I know he dominated the Cuban league unlike many others have done, but if Sa
ndy is going to crack the checkbook open this winter, I'd much rather see it be for a smaller risk.


  1. You'd rather he spend on sure things with proven major league track records like Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Carl Crawford, Vernon Wells or Barry Zito?

    To sign a mid tier player like Kendrys Morales (who rejected a $13 million QO because he expects to get more) seems foolhardy when he averages less than half of what someone who outhit Puig and Cespedes did. Even if you allowed for a full 50% dropoff in production, at the kind of money he'd garner (and remember Cespedes gets $9 mil per year and Puig just $6), he's a good gamble if for no other reason than to show the apathetic fanbase that a corner has been turned and they are honestly TRYING to put a winning team on the field.

    1. I didn't say proven major league track records, but maybe somebody we have some more information on. Puig and Cespedes are best case scenarios, and Abreu is supposed to get more than they did. May be because the market is kind of lousy this offseason, or may be because he is going to be a better player. The franchise can do a lot to show the fans they will be competing, but I don't necessarily know that this guy is the way to go.

  2. The mets have to make a big splash this off season or they will be lucky to draw 10,000-15,000 fans a game at citifield next year wether its Abreu or Choo
    or Beltran Sandy and the Wilpons better not sit on there ASS'S or just do
    window dressing or SNY viewership could drop down close to or below 50% too! I don't understand why a lot of comments I read are against signing Abreu? Its not like its your money and ten million dollars a year for a 27 year old slugger is cheap and you don't have to trade any of your great pitching prospects!! When you look at the other choices for first base on the mets
    how can you not want to take a chance on Abreu? If Stanton and Cargo were FA's and the mets were going to go all out to sign one of them and needed all
    the money they could get there hands on I would agree but there not and the
    FA's that are on the market that the mets will go after are secondary players
    so why not go all out to sign Abreu! A lot of teams are going to be sorry next
    year when Abreu hits 30 hr's and drives in 80-100 rbis even if he hits 250 his
    #'s are going to still be a lot better than the choices we have at first base right
    now! If they sign Abreu,Beltran or Byrd or both, Drew, and a good starting pitcher not just an innings eater they would have a good team next year!!