Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu is already drawing plenty of attention even though he isn’t likely to be declared eligible for free agency for at least a few months. A pair of reports Friday morning – one from Peter Abraham at The Boston Globe and the other from Rich Kubatko of MASN Sports – suggest that that Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are already looking like potential suitors for the 26 year old slugger.
Abreu has been one of the most dominant bats in the Cuban professional league over the past few seasons. He also hit .360/.385/.760 in this past Spring’s World Baseball Classic, tying for the tournament lead with 3 HR. All early estimates suggest that he’s going to benefit greatly from the success of Yoenes Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. Abreu could be looking at the highest contract ever signed by the Cuban-born player.
Boston’s interest in Abreu is apparently with the team’s potential void at first base in mind. With Mike Napoli facing free agency, the team doesn’t have a surefire in-house option to take those at bats at first base next season. Abreu, who’s not exactly known for his defensive prowess, could help fill that void and then possibly step into the DH role on a more permanent basis once David Ortiz’s contract runs out (at which point he’ll be 38 and could conceivably retire). Abraham notes that the team is “still doing it’s homework” on Abreu and will take whatever opportunities they have to learn more about him.
Kubatko, meanwhile, hears that the Orioles have been scouting Abreu for more than a year and are “intrigued by his monster power”. Henry Urrutia – who’s hitting .286/.286/.327 in 49 PA since being called up by the team – is reportedly a childhood friend of Abreu’s, which could potentially work in their favor once negotiations begin.
We’ll undoubtedly hear more teams enter the mix as it gets closer to the time where Abreu hits the open market. With a relatively weak overall free agent class, he could end up being one of the more intriguing options to monitor.