Ben Badler of Baseball America released a list of five teams who could be candidates to sign top Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu this off-season. Abreu was recently rumored to be declared a free agent, making him eligible to sign with any team. One of the five teams mentioned was Pittsburgh.
Badler made a lot of the same points I’ve been making with Abreu. The Pirates don’t have a lot of needs this off-season, but one need is at first base. Justin Morneau will be a free agent at the end of the year, and Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez isn’t a long-term solution. The Pirates also don’t have a long-term solution in the farm system who is ready now. They also have a big bump in revenue from the playoffs, their attendance from this winning season, and the national TV revenue, which could allow them to go after a big name free agent.
Badler brings up a few different points as well. He notes that the Pirates have signed Cuban players in the past, and have been in on guys like Dayan Viciedo. He also says that Abreu looks like a riskier bet than other free agents, which could work out well for the Pirates. A major league team looking for a first baseman might be more inclined to go after Mike Napoli, Kendrys Morales, or even Corey Hart, since they’ve had success in the majors. That could provide less competition for the Pirates to go with a higher risk but potentially higher reward option.