Back in October, the Chicago White Sox signed Cuban slugger, Jose Dariel Abreu to the largest contract ever given to an international player. Abreu is set to make $68 million dollars from the White Sox over the next six seasons and is expected to step in and immediately take over for Paul Konerko at first base.
Due to the recent success of Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, there will be a great deal of pressure placed on Abreu to succeed right out of the gate. The White Sox have obviously shown that they believe Abreu can step in and be a star but how confident should fantasy owners feel about selecting this unknown commodity on draft day? Little is known about Abreu, for most people the only time we’ve been able to see him is when he played in the World Baseball Classic, but what we do know is rather impressive.
In the 2010-2011 season, Abreu had a .453/.597/.986 line with 79 runs, 93 RBI and 33 home runs in just 66 games; in 2011-12 he had a .394/.542/.837 line with 75 walks, 71 runs, 99 RBI and 35 home runs; and in 2012-13 he had a .382/.535/.735 line with 37 runs, 36 RBI and 13 home runs in just 42 games (Cuba shortened it’s season). Abreu was one of the most prolific sluggers in Cuban league history; as a prospective fantasy owner, how much would you be willing to gamble that his success in Cuba translates to success in the majors?
I have not done my rankings for 2014 yet, but when I do I imagine Abreu is going to wind up somewhere in the 10-15 range among first basemen. I’d have no issue at all using a mid-round pick on him, and based on pure upside alone I think he’s worth taking a shot on over guys like Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales and teammate, Paul Konerko. However, I wouldn’t enter draft day thinking he’s going to be this years Chris Davis.
Jose Dariel Abreu is one of the biggest unknowns entering the 2014 season and fantasy owners are going to need to decide whether or not they want to gamble on the unknown. If you’re able to land Abreu for the right price, I believe he can be a worthwhile investment who has the chance to pay off dividends.