Sports Magazine

Dunio : Cuban Defector Abreu Could Solidify Pirates Offense

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Despite the Pirates still leading the NL Central, the team has well documented offensive issues. For most of the season they've lacked consistent production, especially with runners in scoring position. Without having many answers in the immediate future, the Pirates should strongly consider going all in on recent Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu.
Abreu is arguably the greatest player to ever defect from Cuba. He's a power hitting first baseman who destroys baseballs. He's a superstar among superstars...Just ask recent Cuban defectors Yasiel Puig or Yoennis Cespedes. Abreu is listed as 6'2", 258 lbs, but Cespedes says he's more like 6'4" or 6'5" and athletic.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Cespedes answered some questions about Abreu. When asked to compare Abreu to a current major leaguer, Cespedes said "I can't think of a major leaguer that he compares to, but Miguel Cabrera comes to mind." That's pretty good company to be compared to. But it makes sense given that Abreu hits for average and power.
Cespedes says Abreu has 4 out of the 5 tools - and his speed is the only thing lacking. "He runs well for his size, but he's not a burner. He's a good fielder that hits for average and power."
Jose Dariel Abreu's Cuban Highlights

  • 2009/2010 - All Star first baseman complied a .399/.555/.822 line with 82 R, 30 HR, 76 RBI, 74 BB and only 49 K in 89 games.

  • 2010/2011 - Had one of the greatest seasons in Cuban history. Played in only 66 games while missing 23 due to shoulder bursitis. In only 66 games, he hit .453/.597/.986 with 79 R, 93, RBI, and 33 HR. He tied Yoennis Cespedes for the Cuban HR record (record since beat) and led the league in AVG, SLG, IBB, and HR. He finished 2nd in RBI behind Cespedes, but would have easily won the triple crown is he hadn't missed 23 games due to injury.

  • 2011 World Cup - Starting first baseman for the Cuban team and hit .442/.478/.721 with 3 HR and 10 R in 11 games.

  • 2011 Pan American Games - Hit .524/.561/.1.048 with 3 HR, 5 R, and 9 RBI in 5 games. (3-4 with a BB in a 12-10 loss to Team USA)

  • 2011/2012 - Played for Cienguegos in Cuba. Hit .394/.542/.837 with 35 HR, 71 R, 99 RBI, and 75 BB in 87 games. During the season, he tied a Cuban record for hitting a home run in 6 straight games.

  • 2012/2013 - Cuba shortened the regular season, so Abreu only played in 42 games. He hit .382/.535/.735 with 13 HR, 37R, 36 RBI, and 37 BB.

The Bidding War
The recent successes of fellow Cubans Yoennis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig are going to drive up the market value considerably higher than the 7yr, 42 mil for Puig and the 4 yr, 36 mil for Cespedes. Some analysts believe Abreu's deal will be close to 10 mil/yr for 6 or 7 years. The greatest concern for Abreu is that he's already 26 years old and the winning team will be paying premium dollars for him during the years he will begin to decline.
There is risk when signing any player and there are never guarantees. The risks are considerably higher when you are signing a player to such a large contract and he's never played a single major league game. However, the fact that he recently played with Puig and Cespedes (and outperformed both of them) should help to deter some of the fear and risk associated with spending 70 or 80 million dollars.
Abreu appears to be ready to play in the majors immediately and would likely be an All Star candidate in his first season. The Pirates have great need at first base heading into next season. Garrett Jones is on the decline at 32 years old and Gaby Sanchez is obviously not the answer. They will likely look outside the organization for a first baseman after the season, so why not Abreu? There will certainly be a bidding war as many teams will be vying for his services. But, 10 or 11 mil per year is absolutely worth paying for if you are getting 4 tool first baseman.
The Pirates WILL have money to spend and this type of contract isn't unreasonable, especially for a guy that could be the team's best player in his first year.
So Buccos...Go all in and dress this guy in black and gold.

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