Yesterday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported via a source that Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has been declared a free agent.
Source: #Cuba prospect Jose Abreu declared a free agent & cleared to sign with a team. Giants among clubs taking a long look at the slugger.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) September 28, 2013
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.
#Redsox have shown the most interest in Jose Dariel Abreu, source says. He's been working out at their facility in D.R.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) September 28, 2013
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.