Move over Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes there is reportedly a new Cuban in town and his name is Jose Dariel Abreu. Abreu has reportedly defected and is in either the Dominican Republic or Haiti depending upon which news report one wants to believe.
Abreu, 26, is arguably the best hitting prospect to come from Cuba in a long time. He tied for the league lead in home runs last season with 19 in 264 at-bats, a pace of about 36 home runs over a 500 at-bat season. He also hit .345 and had a 39/54 K/BB ratio. He also hit three home runs and drove in nine runs while going 9-25 in the World Baseball Classic.
During the 2009-10 season, Abreu hit .399/.555/.822 with 82 runs scored, 76 RBI, 30 homers and 74 walks while only striking out 49 times. The bat is real and he could provide an instant impact to any team that wants to make the large financial commitment it would take to sign him.
Abreu, a first baseman, could draw major interest from several teams given the recent success of Leonys Martin, Puig and Cespedes and, to a much lesser extent, Jorge Soler, there should be plenty of interest in Abreu who is entering the prime of his career.
The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are just a few of the teams that would be interested. Some, like the Yankees, already have large financial commitments at first base but would be foolish to pass on the potential that Abreu possesses.
Given his age, Abreu would be a free agent and wouldn’t be subject to the international pool which could mean a huge payday for the slugger. Right now, baseball fans will have to sit and wait and hope their team has the fortitude to make a bid for the free agent. Any team that is lucky enough, and financially stable enough, to land Abreu could be getting a player that could make an instant impact. For now, the waiting game begins as political tape has to be cut and visas issued. Then there is the blessing from Major League Baseball, the workouts, the bidding and finally the contract that could make history. It will take several months for all of this to develop but the free agent market suddenly got a lot more interesting.