Cuban First Baseman Jose Abreu Declared a Free Agent

Yesterday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported via a source that Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has been declared a free agent.

Abreu is a power hitting first baseman, and will be an interesting target this off-season for a lot of teams. Back in August I wrote that Abreu is the perfect off-season target for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have money to spend, and very few needs. One of those needs is a power hitting first baseman. Currently I project them to have a payroll of around $75 M, and that estimate includes A.J. Burnett returning. It doesn’t include Garrett Jones or Gaby Sanchez, who will probably combine for close to $9 M. Their payroll this year is projected to be close to $75 M. Next year they will be getting National TV revenue, which could add $20-25 M in revenue. So there’s definitely money to spend.

There will be competition for Abreu. Already the Boston Red Sox have been mentioned as a team with the most interest.

Back in August, Jeff Passan speculated that the bidding for Abreu could reach $60 M. That could be $10-15 M per year, depending on whether Abreu receives a 4-6 year deal. He is the same age as Yoenis Cespedes, who received a four-year deal at $9 M per year, and was eligible for free agency at the end of the deal.

The presence of a big market like Boston might give the appearance that teams like the Pirates have no shot at landing Abreu. However, in looking at some top Cuban free agents, you can’t rule out small market teams. Oakland signed Cespedes. The Reds signed Aroldis Chapman. On the flip side, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig and the Phillies signed Miguel Gonzalez, a top pitcher out of Cuba this year.

The Pirates have money to spend, and have shown some interest in the past. They also have a need that Abreu could fill. But that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee they will land Abreu. It doesn’t even make them favorites or strong candidates of any kind. It just means that Abreu is now a free agent, he would make sense for the Pirates, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea if they went after him.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • ScottyZak

    Would really love to see this happen, but it just looks like too many teams are interested.

  • jschwartz

    I know that this does not line up with many other’s views, but I’m of the opinion that “attempting” to bring back Morneau would be a very good idea. He provides plus defense and seems to fit perfectly in the room. I also love the fact that he has good plate discipline and hits well situationally. I don’t think there will be many better options out there. Also, at a lower salary, you’ll get a decent bang for your buck.

    • https://profiles.google.com/105668650510920614054 Brian Bernard

      I like Morneau also, and believe that if he was willing to go two years in the $15 mil range that would be good value and a super solid veteran that would continue to lend confidence to the team. His plate patience as you mention is also SO needed on this team of strike out victims.
      Abreau is the sexier pick, but like A.J. a good vet can be the rock for the organization. Sign Morneau.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.beam.16 Matt Beam

      Sanchez/Jones platoon will probably cost $9MM next yr so why not go $4/$48MM on Abreau, not many of these high end Cuban guys haven’t lived up to or exceeded expectations lately so not sure there’s much risk

  • jamminjoe66

    0 hr’s 3 RBI’s in a month of games. NO, give me Abreu.

    • smurph

      Yeah Morneau gives you some intangibles, but he is nothing more than an average player. One year 7 to 8 million. If someone wants to give him multiple years, let them have him. Better options are to go all out for Abreu, or to release Jones and then see if you can bring him back for maybe 3 -3.5 million. He had a bad season, but his numbers are still close to Morneau’s. .734 vs. .708 OPS.

      • jschwartz

        I think the difference between Morneau and Jones is greater then numbers can indicate. Morneau is much better defensively and his walk to strikeout ratio shows greater plate discipline. And, though his RBI and power numbers were down, as a Pirate JM showed he can go with a pitch the other way and advance runners. IMO these intangibles are needed with this group of players.

  • CalipariFan506

    As offensive numbers go down around baseball one thing really sticks out. 1B has really gone down to the point that it isn’t even the best offensive position any longer. The Pirates are still behind in 1B production but it isn’t as much of a handicap as it was a few seasons ago when compared to other teams around baseball. I’d say 10+ teams in baseball weren’t happy with their 1B production this season and aren’t happy at next year’s options.

  • http://MultiMatchupSports.com Stephen Stasa

    So the Pirates could have a Jones/Sanchez platoon for around $9M, Morneau/Sanchez for at least $11M (guessing Morneau takes a pay cut as he gets older with slipping numbers but how much?) or Abreu (and a roster spot to play with) for around $12M. A 5yr/$60M deal sounds reasonable to get it done. With all the other pieces coming together and 1B being one of the last remaining holes, Abreu sounds like he could really make the Pirates a force for at least 3 years (4 if Walker and Alvarez can be extended). And unlike the platoon options, this is more than a 1-2 year solution. With Dickerson and Allie the only other possible solutions in site beyond that, I really hope the Pirates go hard for this guy.

    If the Pirates payroll is $75M, adding $12M still would have the Pirates as the lowest payroll in the NL Central going by this year’s payroll numbers (Brewers 4th with $88.8M). Plus, he sounds like somebody who can build even more excitement (i.e. more ticket sales, higher TV ratings, more national TV games) over a team who is still trying to rebuild it’s image in the city (and in baseball in general).

  • CalipariFan506

    I won’t comment on Abreu because simply put I’m in no position to even determine if the guy can play or not. I trust the Pirates scouts to figure out if he can help or not.

  • Nuke Laloosh

    Watched some videos of Abreu. He is a man of rather generous proportions.