Badler: Cuban slugger Jose Abreu defects


Via Ben Badler: Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has successfully defected and will try to sign with an MLB team. He’s in the Caribbean somewhere and it typically takes a few months for players to establish residency, be declared a free agent by MLB, and get cleared by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Abreu, 26, is said to be “an intelligent hitter without a lot of effort in in his swing and the power to hit 30-plus homers in a season … (though) some scouts consider his bat speed only fair.” He has a unorthodox double toe-tap and, like many Cuban hitters, is prone to breaking balls off the plate. Abreu is a big boy — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 258lbs. — with outrageous numbers in Cuba, including a .382/.525/.735 line this year and .394/.542/.837 last year. There’s plenty of video on YouTube.

Mike Napoli and Kendrys Morales are the best first basemen scheduled to hit the free agent market this winter, so Abreu’s defection came at a good time for him. Speculation is he could get a deal worth upwards of $70M, which strikes me as insane for a bad body, right/right first baseman with no defensive value or big league track record. The Yankees have already met their quota for big money first baseman, so I doubt they’ll get into the mix on Abreu.


  1. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Of course I like the idea of this guy. My biggest concern is what these guys now will think they’re worth in a landscape where Puig and, possibly, Cespedes are considered marquee names. This could get rather silly quickly.

  2. Andrew says:

    The team has gone cheap on DH the last few years so I see no way they break the bank for Abreu. Though the idea of having him as insurance for Teixeira’s wrist and, if Teixeira’s healthy, a regular starter at DH–would be nice. But the bottom line, regardless of Abreu, is they’ll desperately need another RH power hitter next year. Would be nice to find an outfielder like that, but if it’s a DH/1B type, that works too.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

      In fairness, if you are going to spend hand over fist for a DH, wouldn’t you go get someone who has done it already at the big league level?

      I am complete agreement with the Tilapia sentiment above… Puig and Cespedes have COMPLETELY blown the lid off the Cuban defect market. Which means he will not be a Puig or Cespedes level value, and that makes a guy like him even riskier…

      • Andrew says:

        Yeah the price is going to be far too rich, and I don’t see the Yankees going there in any way. The big league level experience thing though…if they rated his bat highly and had the need/desire to move for him, I don’t think the lack of MLB experience would prohibit the move. If he’s considered an elite hitter and there aren’t any other similar types on the market, he’d get paid despite the lack of experience.

        • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

          Sure… but from what we’re reading above, he’s NOT considered an elite bat. Merely a large guy with a good bat with 30+ HR power and a tendency to flail through breaking pitches.

          That is LITERALLY what you have in the last two great AAAA Yankees: Jose Vazquez and Future Hall of Famer Ronnier Mustelier… and oh yeah, Mustelier can fake 3B and OF….

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            We have no clue what the Yankees think of him. They might look at him and say, “This is the guy we’ve been waiting for. This guy’s special.” They also might not think he matches the hype or potential pricetag and, yeah, see Vazquez/Randy Ruiz when they look at him. We just don’t know.

            • I'm One says:

              From the little I’ve read, seems this guy is more than an AAAA player. Possibly “best hitter on the planet”. If the Yankees agree that he could approach a Miggy-type bat, then they should go for him and find a way to work him in (as others would no doubt say “just trade Teix and get a great return.”). But we have no idea if those reports are anywhere near accurate or if the Yankees agree with how his bat will translate to the MLB. Just gotta wait and see.

            • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

              Truth… All we have to go on are a couple of reports from guys on iPads, a handful of grainy YouTube videos, and a Grantland article saying hes better than Miggy.

              People who get paid for the business of baseball will know whats up, we can only speculate.

              • I'm One says:

                People who get paid for the business of baseball will know whats up, we can only speculate.

                This is also true of his expected salary and what role the Yankees feel he could play on the team. Now let’s go speculate some more. :-)

        • Vincent Vega says:

          I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just sign Morales….

    • Tisha says:

      not happening. This guy is not the fielder that Tex is.

  3. Greg says:

    Texas or Boston are likely spots. Not the Yankees, who already have the 1B/DH spots locked up.

  4. Brian Cashman says:

    I will fail, right?
    Just want to go ahead and throw that out there so we can move on…

  5. Bobby Abreu says:

    I’m the only Abreu the Yanks might chase

  6. JohnnyCj says:

    Go for Tanaka. He’ll cost less in salary and he’s a front of the rotation starter. Not Darvish but pretty close.

  7. LarryM Fl says:

    Here I’m saying “no to Robbie Cano” which I expect some unreal numbers for his talents. I’m definitly a “no” for a guy who is 6’2″ and 260 lbs., possible 70 million to sign. Maybe the Giants can use another tight end. His body makeup does not conjure good thoughts about ability to stay on the field and other uses besides a Dh and play on a dime first baseman unless Teix. agrees to go to third base.

    But we just got done playing against the best hitter in baseball who does not have real baseball body and he did quite well. I believe some fans own the damaged baseballs he deposited in the seats. Still no not too many Caberea’s come around in a lifetime.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

      So if you don’t want Cano and you don’t want Abreu (two of the most significantly opposite players you could possibly find), and you want Miggy Cabrera but you can’t have him…. then what exactly do you want as the next great Yankee?

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Greg Bird’s the word.

      • LarryM Fl says:

        Who do I want? I do not want Abreu for the reasons mentioned. Cano will be way too expensive for age and length of contract. The Yankees are in transition. There need should be to go young with control and then extend when its good for the club and the player would be interested.

        Who do I want? Machado would be nice at third base. This would be a nice start. Tall and lean can run, field, hit seems to have base smarts. Guys like Jeter, if I’m going to throw money around as a drunken sailor on shore leave.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Not a bad choice. You can’t have him, though. :)

          We are going to miss the captain dearly, if we don’t miss him already.

        • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

          Sure, Machado is the sexy choice, but you got to draft 3rd to get him. Similar to drafting 4th to get Jeter.

          That said, I would give my left nut (should I still be in possession of it after the Granderson affair above…) for Evereth Cabrera.

  8. Cool Lester Smooth says:


    …yadda yadda yadda

  9. Conor in China says:

    Given how weak the free agent market is and Abreu’s age, the Yankees should definitely consider him. The offense needs good bat no matter what the teams plans are for next season. he sounds better than any other DH options.

  10. jjyank says:

    If the price is right, sure. However, I suspect, as Fish Fingers said above, that Cespedes and Puig are going to inflate the market for Abreu. Everyone wants to get the next Puig.

    Abreu doesn’t excite me much. His numbers are super shiny, but I’m always wary of non-MLB, or even MiLB numbers. If he was an up the middle player, I would be more excited.

  11. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    like many Cuban hitters, is prone to breaking balls off the plate.

    I didn’t know Soriano was Cuban…
    *”The More You Know” jingle plays*

  12. Mike Myers says:

    This is a MUST READ about Jose. From 1 1/2 years ago….

    Read this and tell me you dont want him on the team….i dare you

    • pat says:

      The title is certainly eye catching, but some of the stuff inside is too.

      -The league recently switched to Mizuno-150 baseballs, much livelier models than the Mizuno-200 or Rawlings balls found in other countries.

      - “He’s a first baseman at best and maybe a DH if and when he makes the big leagues.”

      -”His stats have been inflated somewhat by intentional walks (a league-leading 32 in 2009-10, and 21 last season) and hit-by-pitches (30 in 2009-10, 21 last season)”

      -”Even Abreu’s hit tool, while playable, might not be superstar-level.”

      -Try as he might, Davenport’s Cuban translations remain much less reliable than what he can do with, say, Japanese league players.


      Sounds like a Cuban Jorge Vazquez. While he might be better than that, doesn’t sound like someone worth 70 million bucks.

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Jorge Vazquez didn’t walk and his hit tool was nowhere near playable.

        Abreu probably isn’t gonna be worth 70 mil, though.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz says:

      The one thing the article doesn’t say is how the Serie Nacional compares to MLB pitchers. Anyone know the comparison? AA? Better?

      • JGYank says:

        I think the article said high A. He sounds like an above average hitter with good power that strikes out a lot with little to no speed or fielding skills. So pretty much an above average dh.

  13. Manny's BanWagon says:

    The Yankees have clearly shown over the last several years that they’re not interested in paying these kinds of players the money it’s gonna take to sign them as seen with Cespedes, Puig, Soler, Chapman, Darvish, Ryu, Morales, etc so I’d be very surprise if they suddenly went aggressively after Abreu.

    Possibly if he were a corner outfielder but DH/1B with Teixiera signed for several more years, I just don’t see it.

    I’d lay my money on Texas. They need a 1st baseman and to replace some power after losing Hamilton plus they’re not afraid to spend money.

  14. Matt R says:

    I hope the Yankees go after him big time. They could use a young power hitter. Tex could be done with his wrist, same for Jeter. I know he is big, so is Prince Fielder, (and his dad), the Panda, Kruk, Cabrera. Think about him hitting in Yankees Stadium or Boston. Think about him replacing Big Pappi.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

      Wait, how can Jeter be done with Tex’s wrist? And also, you lost me at Kruk

    • JGYank says:

      Why do you want him? He is an expensive risk that could end up sucking and taking up a roster spot while we’re trying to lower payroll. Even if he works out, he isn’t going to provide any value defensively or on the bases and the Yankees could use the dh spot for others that need days off.

      • Nat King Kong says:

        A better question is why do you not want him, or at least to consider him? Is it your money? Why are you so concerned about whether or not a couple of billionaires get to pocket more profits rather than put it back into the team?

        “He’s an expensive risk that could end up sucking and taking up a roster spot while we’re trying to lower payroll.” So was Puig. So was Darvish. And who is this “we” that is trying to lower payroll? Just because the Steinbrenner crotchfruit says they no longer want to invest in the product on the field doesn’t mean the rest of us should just slavishly drop to our knees and acquiesce. Demand a better product! In a sense, it actually IS our money — the fans are the ones shelling out the stratospheric prices for seats and concessions.

        Now, I’m not advocating that we should just go blindly spend whatever it takes on this guy, but I’m kind of disgusted at the mindless knob-polishing of the billionaires’ austerity whining. It’s complete and utter b.s., and as Yankee fans we should all be protesting it, not just blindly accepting it and parroting it.

        What little scouting there is on the guy suggests he could be (not likely, but not impossible, either) the next Miggy Cabrera, and is, as far as they can say now, comparable at least to Ryan Howard.

        I don’t understand why any Yankee fan would be so flippant about dismissing a 26-year-old prospect like that so they can — what? cheer the poor billionaire Steinbrenner brothers as they instead use the money to go buy another golden shoehorn???

        And really, who caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaares about his “value on the bases”??? Really? Value on the bases? How much “value on the bases” does one get after hitting a 3-run homer and cruising around them? This team needs power bats. If this season hasn’t taught you that much, then you’ll never learn it.

        Hopefully the front office has learned their lesson and will at least consider Abreu carefully before making a decision, and not just dismiss him because they might have to put a little of the profits back into the team.

  15. pat says:

    After a very good 2012 (.292/.356/.505) Cespedes is hitting .227/.295/.428 this year.

    • Manny's BanWagon says:

      He’s at 1.7 bWAR with a quarter season to go so he’ll still likely earn his $9 million salary plus he still has upside.

  16. Oscar Gamble's Fro says:

    The guy is 26 (or older given that El Duque was 34-36 for a decade it seems so who can trust Cuban birth records) but lets face it, this Yankee offense is having its worst season since 1990. The free agent market is nonexistent this off-season. It isn’t like he doesn’t have a track record. He went 9-for-25 with 3 homers in the WBC. He hit close to .400 and clubbed 30+ homers in a 90 game season.

    Talk about body type all you want but we have seen the fat little man David Ortiz crush us for years. We just got done with the other little fatboy Miguel Cabrera kill us. Frank Thomas wasn’t a prototype first baseman either but was okay for a little while before moving to DH. Oh, and don’t forget Cecil Fielder. Charlie Hayes was a fat guy playing third. Need I mention Babe Ruth? Leave us fat guys alone! We do have muscle under there somewhere.

    Last time I checked, Teixeira is coming off of wrist surgery and is hardly a sure thing moving forward. It isn’t like he was doing that well before the injury so who really knows what he has left. Given what Cespedes, Puig, Leonys Martin have done recently you can’t ignore this guy. Numbers don’t lie and he has almost always had more walks than strikeouts.

    The Yankees can’t be that leery of Cuban defectors considering Adonis Garcia, Ronnie Mustelier are in the system right now at Scranton.

    The Yankees won’t sign him because he is younger than 30 and can be an impact bat. If his name was Travis Hafner or Bobby Abreu maybe they would consider it. If this guy’s bat is as good as advertised then why the hell wouldn’t the Yankees kick the tires on him? The Yankees were already planning for A-Rod’s contract to be a part of the salary structure next season. Since it looks like he won’t be they should take advantage of this manna from heaven and invest in YOUNG players who can be a middle of the order bat…like Jose Dariel Abreu.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

      The Yankees definitely won’t sign him.
      But it will have nothing to do with being young.
      With the current roster construction, spending big for a 1B/DH makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Spending big for a somewhat questionable 1B/DH makes even less sense.

      • bkight13 says:

        Teams made up of guys over 35 find out their strengths turn into weaknesses really quick. Tex is no sure thing anymore with his wrist, ARod will be on the shelf and then 40 years old. Jeter may have to shift to 3B if he ever gets back. The Yanks need to get younger and the best hitter in Cuban baseball at 26 years old seems like a worthwhile gamble. The Yankees only real advantage is money and they need to start flexing their muscles, not trying to save money.

  17. JGYank says:

    Sounds like a good dh option and an a possible insurance option for Tex. Not for $70 million though. He could make adjustments but that is just too much of risk especially when we are lowering payroll. If he came cheap it would be a different story.

  18. Al says:

    The Yankees (Cashman) are a small market minded team now ! Yankee fan must know this and get over it !!!!! Sorry. But that life In the Yankee baseball world. (Side note next year ticket price going up – cost of living Increase)

    • jjyank says:

      How many small market teams are setting a $189 mil budget?

    • JGYank says:

      That’s bs. Until the farm starts producing we’ll have to rely on free agents and trades. Once the 189 thing is over with and we shed some contracts we’ll go right back to spending.

      • bkight13 says:

        The Yankees have already saved more with the Tex injury and the looming ARod suspension than they would with the 189m plan. It’s time to drop the charade. Stop with the stop-gaps and get some younger, talented players. Sign Cano, QO Granderson and go after Abreau. Trade off or cut the losers from the Wells/Ichiro/Soriano mess and find a replacement level 3b like Freese and a serviceable C.

        • JGYank says:

          I agree except Abreu is too much of an expensive risk. He would fill the Dh role we need to give guys rest and hide our aging veterans defensively. He doesn’t seem like an athletic guy with multiple tools to rely on either. I want to get younger and collect more talent as well but you can’t throw the Tex CC and Arod deals out the window. They will still be there after 2014 but Arod has stuff up in the air. Your plan relies on free agents just like I said we need to do if we want to contend since our farm is unreliable.

        • JGYank says:

          189 is going to happen. Accept it. There is a lot of incentive to do it and get it over with. The team won’t be that great in 2014 even with a higher payroll anyway.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Ticket prices aren’t really related to payroll as much as they are related to what people have shown a willingness to pay. The Yanks aren’t lowering their ticket prices not because Hal is greedy but because they’ve drawn the highest per-game average in the AL and the 4th highest in baseball. Generally, the teams with lower average ticket prices are also the teams that don’t draw very well.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:


      • Nat King Kong says:

        Yes, if Yankee fans are stupid enough to continue going to the ballpark to watch a bad second-division baseball team filled with Vernon Wellses and David Adamses and Chris Stewarts, of course ticket prices won’t drop.

        On the other hand, one would hope that Yankee fans aren’t that stupid, and that if the poor billionaire Steinbrenners continue with their ridiculous austerity plan and continue putting such a terrible product on the field, that attendance and ratings will plummet, and a little reality will have to be faced by the billionaires.

      • Steve says:

        You don’t think the Yankees see it as a little concerning that the team’s average attendance is down 3,000 people per game over last season and that the percentage is down from 89-percent in 2011 to 87-percent in 2012 to 80-percent this year? Avg attendance has gone down every year sine 2010. Have ticket prices also gone down? It seems like less and less people are showing a willingness to pay those prices.

  19. Bill says:

    The Yankees likely won’t sign him, but the guy has MVP potential. His power numbers in any league are simply insane. I mean he’s hit 74 HRs over the past two years (549 ABs). Even if the pitchers aren’t that great which I’m sure they’re not its tough to hit HRs at that rate with batting practice fastballs.

    Compare him with Cespedes and Cespedes who is just a year older had numbers that pale in comparison to Abreu.

    70M sounds likes a lot, but you’re also signing a guy at age 26 through what will be his prime years (will sign a long term deal) and if he pans out you’ll get him at a relative discount. There’s certainly risk, but the reward is also great.

    Yes the team has Tex for 3 more years, but Tex is also coming back from a broken wrist. And they don’t have a regular DH either. I know Girardi likes to use the spot to give guys half days off, but a full day is obviously much better.

    The Yankees greatest need right now is a young everyday player with power. Forget position for a second and think about the lineup. The team is losing because they can’t score runs regularly. And they keep hopelessly wasting money on washed up veterans. Its time to try something different and take a risk that has big time reward potential.

    • Bill says:

      Oh and 70M sounds like a lot now, but for perspective 70M will be across probably at least 7 years. 10M per is not cheap, but when you consider the upside and the success rate of recent defectors its not a bad deal at all. I feel fairly confident that when he signs with another team a year from now we’ll likely be applauding the risk that team made.

      Even if he flames out at least you can respect Cashman and Co for having the courage to take a risk on a high upside guy in his mid 20′s.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        “Even if he flames out at least you can respect Cashman and Co for having the courage to take a risk on a high upside guy in his mid 20?s.”

        Now there’s a likely scenario.

      • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

        Respecting Cashman for doing something (or nothing)? You must be new here.

  20. Phil "commish" Selig says:

    I saw him play in Cienfuegos Cuba this past December, briefly met him after the game.

    He is a BIG guy, solid not fat.

    All the locals were raving about him and this other guy PUIG ;-P

    In the small sample I saw, it appears the pitchers rely more on deceptiveness (mechanics weren’t terrific)down there, not quite El Duque territory, however the offense didn’t seem too supercharged either.
    His numbers stand out as somewhat gaudy…but had a good disciplined approach and real world power.

  21. RetroRob says:

    If the Dodgers are still in buy-anything-that-moves mode, he should have a nice $100M contract waiting for him.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

      Except they have nowhere to play him with Gonzalez/Puig/Kemp/Ethier/Crawford clogging up every 1B/OF position (because in theory, you could run Gonzalez out to RF as he played there in SD and Boston, not that I’d recommend it).

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.