White Sox Land Cuban Star Jose Abreu, Konerko Out?
Thursday afternoon reports broke that Jose Abreu had narrowed down his top destinations to the Red Sox, Houston Astros, and the White Sox. Shortly after the Red Sox were said to be out due to being outbid which left the Astros. Little time passed before the Astros looked to be out of it as well. Surviving a last second push from the Rangers, the White Sox had successfully outbid all others to land 26-year old Cuban first base prospect Jose Abreu at a 6 year/$68 million clip, the largest first-time contract for an international free agent.
Abreu, who has mashed the Cuban league for years and is a fixture on the Cuban national team is expected to be the future for the White Sox at first base. Abreu has chased two triple crowns, he hit .360, adding three home runs and nine RBI’s during the World Baseball Classic in 2013, and also is considered a middle of the order power hitter. Abreu hasn’t quite drawn comparisons to baseball’s best power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, but he if he gets ahold of a ball he can drive it a country mile, much less his fellow Cuban defectors.
According to scouts Abreu could step into a major league lineup tomorrow and put up Yoenis Cespedes numbers. The intention from the White Sox front office in this move seemed to be to get the best talent they could to replace the outgoing Paul Konerko as quickly as possible. Which bears the question if Konerko has room to return to the White Sox in 2014. Konerko has a rather uncharacteristic season in 2013, his worse season since 1999. However, Konerko, one of two team captains left in baseball (the other being Derek Jeter), has said that he wants to play again in 2014, preferably with the South Siders.
Unfortunately, I see this move as a friendly gesture of showing Konerko the door in Chicago. I have no doubt that Konerko can be a useful and productive Major League 1st baseman, but he is on the decline and the White Sox will need to let Abreu see as many pitches as possible in order to get him to reach his full potential fastest, and the White Sox really can’t sit Adam Dunn because he is still a very useful power hitter. Thus, I feel like it’s going to be weird not seeing #14 on the field in 2014 but hopefully he’ll return to the White Sox in some capacity after he retires. We could always use a good hitting coach PK.