CHICAGO -- It seems that Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams was only playing coy when he acted lukewarm on Cuban free-agent slugger Jose Dariel Abreu.
Abreu, who had better production than both Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes in Cuba, was the topic of conversation way back in August when Williams had a rare chat with the media since moving to his VP position.
“I saw three tapes (on Abreu) and I need to see another one,” Williams said.
So you’re not convinced yet?
“I need more video,” Williams said.
Hogwash. Every rumor involving Abreu since he defected from Cuba this summer seems to have involved the White Sox.
There was the indication from ESPN’s Buster Olney on Wednesday that Abreu’s choices could come down to the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers or the White Sox. Then there was an mlb.com report Thursday that indicated Abreu had limited his options to the Astros, White Sox and Boston Red Sox. Olney countered later saying the Astros and Red Sox were out of the running. The San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins had also been rumored to be interested.
Abreu’s playing options are limited to first base and designated hitter, making him a good fit with an American League team, and in particular the White Sox, who saw Paul Konerko's contract expire at the end of the season.
Also making the White Sox a good fit is the fact that Cuban-born players Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo also play on the South Side. Another Cuban-born player, Jose Contreras, was a key member of the White Sox’s 2005 World Series championship club.
The White Sox have money to spend after shedding the contracts of both Jake Peavy and Alex Rios in July and August trades, respectively. Take away the expiring contracts of Konerko and Gavin Floyd and there is even more money to work with.
At the most recent World Baseball Classic this spring, Abreu knocked around international competition for nine hits in 25 at-bats, including three home runs and nine RBIs.
So just how much money will a hitter like Abreu command?
Cespedes was able to grab $36 million over four years from the Oakland Athletics. Puig landed $42 million over seven years from the Dodgers. Olney reported that a deal for Abreu could reach as high as $70 million.
If Abreu can deliver Cespedes or Puig numbers with the White Sox, a deal at $10 million per season is a steal. But there is always the unknown about a player that many teams, the White Sox included, have only seen in person during select workouts recently.
It always stood to reason that the guy replacing Konerko at first base would have an extremely tough act to follow. The beauty of Abreu is that he probably doesn’t know much about Konerko, although the pressures of matching the bar set by Cespedes and Puig might carry its own stress.