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Report: Top Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu defects

Aug 11, 2013, 10:21 PM EDT

Jose Abreu Getty Images

A pair of agents told El Nuevo Herald that first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu has defected from Cuba and is somewhere in the Caribbean, with separate reports placing him in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

If the news is true, Abreu would rate as biggest Cuban free agent ever. Arguably the country’s best hitter, Abreu is just entering his prime at 26 and he tied for the league lead in homers last year, hitting 19 in 264 at-bats. He finished the season batting .345 with a 39/54 K/BB ratio. In the World Baseball Classic, he went 9-for-25 with three homers and nine RBI.

Particularly in light of the success of Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig in the majors, Abreu will likely set off quite the bidding war if he’s made a free agent. Given that the Dodgers, Yankees, Tigers and Angels already have huge commitments at first base, the Red Sox and Rangers would seem to be in the best position to land him, with the Mets, Blue Jays, White Sox and Mariners rating as longer shots.

Personally, I think Abreu would immediately emerge as an All-Star candidate at first base. A contract exceeding $70 million-$80 million would hardly come as a surprise.

  1. dboydc - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Although I know I’m dreaming good god if the Stros made a play for him I’d punch myself!

    • dondada10 - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Just pinch yourself, man. It’s just a game.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      I thought about listing the Astros as a long shot. I could see them making a big bid. But even though they’re on the rise, their recent record would seem to be quite a handicap in chasing a big free agent, especially if they’re up against Boston and Texas.

      • rohlo - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:32 AM

        thye gotta start somewhere..they are in the process of getting all those prospects up..crane has the money and knows he needs to start being aggresive,especially with the new tv contract they have. throwing money at abreu would push things even faster. houston is a major market and the tax breaks would be a selling point in houston as well as arlington…

      • rohlo - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:33 AM

        other thing too ,with the other houston teams making noise being contenders in nfl and nba crane needs to step up!!

  2. stoutfiles - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Raúl Castro has to be getting pretty pissed about this.

    • slickdemetrius - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      F*** him.

    • Old Gator - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Raul Castro has watched half his population take off for someplace else. I doubt if one more baseball player pricks his thick skin.

  3. tuberippin - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    I’d say “the Phillies should chase him as a long-term replacement for Ryan Howard,” but I don’t trust that RAJ wouldn’t drastically overpay for the guy’s services. Plus, things apparently fell through with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Still, I would rather have Jose Dariel Abreu than MAG, since hitting is more of a priority.

    I could definitely see Texas chasing him hard, and the same with Boston. The Mets? Hahaha.

    • dondada10 - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      The Mets have Santana and Bay’s contracts coming off the books next year. That’s almost 40 mil.

      • tuberippin - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM

        $5.5mil to buy out Johan, $3mil to buy out Bay. David Wright’s salary jumps $9mil next year ($11mil to $20mil). Ike Davis will go to arbitration and probably get a little more than the $3.125mil he made this year. Arbitration applies to Parnell and to Daniel Murphy as well. They also need to attend to what is an atrocious bullpen situation. All this, plus the existing (at least alleged) financial straits of the Wilpons (don’t forget they took out a loan a couple of years ago and paid out about $140mil to settle a Ponzi scheme lawsuit).

        I could see it as a plausibility, but I’d be highly surprised if Jose Dariel Abreu actually ends up in a Mets uniform.

      • mathieug79 - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM

        Yeah but do they want to make the same mistake?

    • biasedhomer - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      Phillies already have Howard at first.
      If Ruben signs a big name 1B, he will admit he made a huge blunder by signing an aging Howard. And we know, he has a smug, arrogant, “I’m smarter than you since I’m a GM and you are not” attitude.

      • ryanrockzzz - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:27 AM

        lol…where was that press conference or interview? I usually hear Ruben being pretty candid on where the team is, even though he’s been an pretty bad GM.

        If I’m the Phillies I make a bid and worry about the rest later if I get him. First if they dont get him, it sends a message to Howard that he should finally work on his swing and get in better shape this offseason, since he will have had two full years to rehab himself from that achilles. Then if they get him, trade Howard and pay his salary. It was a blunder yes, but the Phillies know sooner or later they will have to eat that contract.

        Super long shot…but they have been bidding in the international arena for once.

    • metfan9876 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      You do realize the Mets bullpen has been fine this year right? Not to mention that they’ll have some of the best starting pitching in baseball by midseason next yeae and any left over arma will just be sent to the bullpen. They also have very little money committed to next year in comparison to a few years ago. I don’t expect them to sign Abreu but I do feel that they will give it a shot.

  4. thebadguyswon - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Time to spend Mets.

  5. Old Gator - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Gee whiz, isn’t anybody predicting that Scrooge McLoria will make a run at this guy – or is one heroic Cuban defector enough for him, ya think?

    • eightyraw - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      The main difference is that Jose Fernandez is cost controlled, via his inclusion in the Rule 4 draft.

      • Old Gator - Aug 12, 2013 at 6:13 AM

        Well thanks for that clarification. I thought folks just knew he was a bloodsucking tightwad.

  6. aberystwyth2 - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Go royals!

    • kcrobert10 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      I’m a huge royals fan but we have hosmer already. I don’t see glass shelling out that kinda money anyway. Maybe if he sells the team to Mr Paterson of cerner co it could get done but Mr glass is making lots of money off this baseball team even when they are bad he makes a lot of money so why would he want to sell.

  7. senatorsguy - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    I think you should add the Nationals as yet another team that could have an interest in a young, power hitting first baseman….

    • eightyraw - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      The best slugger not in the MLB.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:35 AM

      Maybe. But it would be awfully risky for them to commit to a pure first baseman with Ryan Zimmerman maybe needing to move down the line.

      • brianjoates - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM

        If this guy is legit, the nats should make a run, laroche is done. They should consider shutting down zim when reality hits that the post season is too far out of reach. Let him get healthy, get whatever surgery is needed. He is still young.

        If the nats have to think position change for zim, don’t you also have to consider a trade?

  8. fearthehoody - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    “Cuba Libre”

    -That one Chic

  9. tfbuckfutter - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    So….he’s the Cuban hitting version of Dice-K?

    Awesome.

    Sign me up.

    • eightyraw - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:58 AM

      Dice-K:Cespedes :: Darvish:Abreu

    • jayquintana - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:44 AM

      Dice-K had an arm age of about 45 when he came over.

  10. andreweac - Aug 11, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Why not the Astros? They have a ton of payroll flexibility. Abreu is only 26 and will be in his prime when the team is ready to compete by 2015-2016.

    They wouldn’t sacrifice their 2nd round draft pick (top ten Rule 4 picks protected).

  11. tbutler704 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    I’m going to bed dreaming Sandy Alderson is working the phones over this right now….lets go Mets!!!

  12. thebadguyswon - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    The Mets buyout of Santana was budgeted into THIS year. They owe him nothing. Same with Bay. Ike Davis will end up non tendered. Would YOU give a guy that strikes out as much as he does a raise in arbitration? !

    There will be several teams in on Abreu. The Mets could easily be one of them. Dont kid yourself. They aren’t going into 2014 with a 60 million dollar payroll. And you obviously don’t watch Mets games , because the bullpen has been good.

    With the pitching the Mets have, two bats and they will contend. Abreu would make a lot of sense.

    • chc4 - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      The Mets bullpen is not good. It ranks 25th in WAR. Dead last in K’s.

      The Mets need more than 2 bats to contend. There is way too much junk in that regular lineup — C, 1B, SS, LF, CF, RF. Murphy at 2B is a decent player but very upgradeable. And they have no position players in the system. Mets young pitching is great. The lineup is 4-5 guys away from being legit.

      • thebadguyswon - Aug 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        Im not married to WAR, sorry. I watch games. The pen was awful the first two months, likely crushing the beloved “WAR”. But the pen has been very good since June.

        Last time I checked, Cesar Puello and Travis d’Aranud played positions. So…oops….wrong there too. Keep trying.

  13. jcsbck - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    “Personally, I think Abreu would immediately emerge as an All-Star candidate at first base.”

    I guarantee you’ve never even seen him play so how did you “personally” come up with this conclusion?

    • eightyraw - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:00 AM

      I guarantee he has seen him play. I’ve seen him play just this year.

    • jwbiii - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:12 AM

      The WBC was televised. Don’t put any money on the table that you’re not willing to lose.

    • fearla - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:39 AM

      or a third baseman

  14. eightyraw - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Jonah Keri on Abreu, Feb 2013

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7601600/cuba-jose-abreu-migh-best-offensive-weapon-planet

  15. yournuts - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    I want to see him in Yankee Pinstripes. Tex can DH or they can both split time as DH and first Base. Dear Hal Steinbrenner, please give the Yankee Universe this for Christmas. Your loyal Yankee Family of fans from around the world.

    • jwbiii - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:37 AM

      How do you think that fits in with the $189M cap?

    • thebadguyswon - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      Jesus man…give it a rest. The Yankees don’t have a place for him.

    • caeser12 - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Don’t worry, he’ll be in pinstripes, when he’s 37. Our Yanks don’t sign young Guys anymore, too bust feeding the fan frenzy big names with no game. Let’s just chalk it up as another player the Yanks will miss out on.

      Go NY.

    • caeser12 - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Don’t worry, he’ll be in pinstripes, when he’s 37. Our Yanks don’t sign young Guys anymore, too busy feeding the fan frenzy big names with no game. Let’s just chalk it up as another player the Yanks will miss out on.

      Go NY.

  16. homegrowntalentmn - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:42 AM

    Twins hahaha

  17. dcfan999 - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    I could defiantly see the nationals take a run at him

  18. fearla - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:32 AM

    as you all know dodger will go after him they have the most money an plus I thought is that they’ll put him at third base cause jua. uribe sucks I mean hes better this yr but jose is a better slugger idk about his defence on jose but I think hes better then juan Uribe an also there still on ss/2b Alexander Guerrero the other cuban wow having all three cuban in the dodger uniform thats un beatable with puig Guerrero an abreu wow world series go dodgers FEAR LA FEAR LA!!

    • cubfan531 - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:43 AM

      And put him where? First base is already occupied by Adrian Gonzalez through 2018, and Abreu can’t play anywhere else. Unless the NL is going to start using the DH for 2014, Abreu won’t wind up in LA, be it with the Dodgers or Angels.

  19. fearla - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    oh an also I think dodgers will out bid rangers twins red sox Orioles yankees etc my guess is that the bid for jose abreu will be for 8 yrs 80million to 90 million thats how much dodgers will give him

    • chc4 - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      I’m not normally one to point out grammatical issues since this is a blog and all…. but at least a feeble attempt at punctuation should be made. There are at least 3 sentences in your 1 sentence.

  20. jadaruler - Aug 12, 2013 at 6:05 AM

    LAD are so nuts I don’t count them out. Would love to see the Rangers add another quality Cuban (Martin is coming into his own). I see a surprise team (SEA or TOR) making a huge bid.

    • lmoneyfresh - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I would love to see TEX go after him. I’m over the Mooreland experiment.

  21. yanks33 - Aug 12, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Wish the Yankees didn’t have that suck stick Teixeira locked up for so long

  22. brianjoates - Aug 12, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Cuba is not what we would call an ideal place to live, but if you can take the communist country aspect out of this, why should American star athletes have to be subject to the mlb draft? Shouldn’t a guy who has tremendous potential be allowed pick his own future employer?

    • chiadam - Aug 12, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      No, because then half the league would not exist.

      • brianjoates - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:18 AM

        if you have enough pro ball on your resume then you should not have to be subject to a draft, it is a reasonable exception.

    • Old Gator - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      I think you’re missing this. It’s about money and keeping the bulk of the available wealth in the hands of them what already got it. The disadvantage at which this places draftees is not inconsistent with the complete lack of regard for the wellbeing of minor league ballplayers also exhibited by the MLBPA in its contract negotiating. It’s just a baseball variation of “them what has, gets.”

  23. thebadguyswon - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    I’d love to see the Mets get him and I think he would be perfect for them, but I know there’s no way in red-hot hell that happens. It isn’t Sandy Alderson’s modus operandi. He’s much more likely to sign Justin Morneau than splurge on one player.

    I think Puoliot nails it – Texas and Boston are the most likely destinations. Teams that actually want to win.

  24. sandrafluke2012 - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Amazing. Cuba has such great healthcare and social programs that they would have to block you from leaving

    • Old Gator - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Still a moron after a few days orf, eh? Yes, they have excellent healthcare although “social programs” is a typically vague and sententious rhetorical ploy for a hopelessly anal rightist. It’s the repressive police state environment and irremediable command economy mismanagement that induces people to leave. It has nothing to do with health care. You probably know this anyway, but your abyssal intellectual (metaphorically speaking) dishonesty won’t let you make the distinction in public.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        “It’s the repressive police state environment and irremediable command economy mismanagement that induces people to leave. It has nothing to do with health care.”

        Sure. But other than this…I bet it’s a wonderful place to live. And if you have old-school mechanic’s skills (say…from the 1950’s)…it’s almost a dream!

    • tbutler704 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Another right wing asshole heard from. Isn’t it time for Rush Limbaugh? Go away.

  25. house068 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Would love for the Pirates to make a play. I know THAT would be a long shot.

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