According to CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, the San Francisco Giants have ended their pursuit of Cuban power hitter Jose Abreu, who will now apparently choose from among the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros as he looks for a team for 2013.
Abreu, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, has some very intriguing power-hitting ability, as he hit 33 homers in 66 games in 2010. Now, at 26 years old, many believe that Abreu can have a Yasiel Puig-like impact when he comes to the major leagues next year. However, reports indicate that he has issues in the field, so he would be a better investment for teams that can use him as a designated hitter if necessary.
Abreu could have been a huge addition to the Giants’ lineup, but things sure seem a lot simpler now that he is out of the picture. First of all, his addition would have forced Brandon Belt to move to left field full-time, negating his positive defensive impact at first and possibly creating a liability in left. Additionally, if Abreu became a major offensive contributor, it would be more difficult to justify taking him out of the lineup whenever Buster Posey needs a day off and has to move to first. Finally, the Giants have a player in their system, Angel Villalona, who arguably has as much power potential as Abreu, but is three years younger. While Villalona has had issues making consistent contact at times in the minors, it would have been disappointing if the Giants didn’t at least put him in line to be able to make some type of impact at the Major-League level.
Another factor to consider is how difficult it would have been for the Giants to help Abreu acclimate to the United States and the American baseball culture. We’ve seen numerous times this year how controversial Yasiel Puig has been. His cockiness, excessive bat-flipping, and fiery personality can likely be attributed at least partially to culture that he was part of while playing in Cuba.
Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Reiter detailed how challenging it was for the Oakland Athletics‘ Yoenis Cespedes to adjust to the United States. When he came over, the outfielder frequently drank glasses of whole milk sweetened with six spoons of sugar. His diet was composed primarily of red meat, and he smoked cigarettes in the clubhouse. To ensure that he adjusted properly, the A’s hired former reliever Ariel Prieto to live with Cespedes and basically be his personal shadow.
If the Giants had signed Abreu, they probably would have made similar arrangements to ensure that he was comfortable. However, this type of behavior from Abreu may not have gone over as well in the Giants’ veteran-dominated clubhouse as it did with the Athletics’ ever-changing cast of players.
As much havoc as a move for Abreu may have created, though, it’s still a disappointment that the Giants won’t be able to add a power hitter of his caliber to the lineup. The team is still without a reliable left fielder, and there aren’t too many attractive free-agent options. If the Giants want to properly fill the position, they may be forced to resort to a trade.