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White Sox Fri Oct 18 2013

White Sox Take Risk, Sign Abreu

Sox_200.pngJose Abreu is really, really good. But, Jose Abreu is a really, really bad fit for the White Sox.

The Sox made the first splash of free agency late Thursday night, signing Cuban League superstar Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal. Abreu, a giant right-handed hitting first baseman, was also pursued by the Astros, Red Sox and Rangers. The fact that the White Sox, of all teams, was able to outbid everyone for Abreu is fairly surprising.

In a vacuum, this is a great signing. What's wrong with adding a prodigious power hitter and unleashing him on the slugger haven that is Sox Park? What's wrong with turning first base, which was going to be a huge hole in the lineup for the next few years, into a strength? What's wrong with the Sox adding an All-Star caliber player who will be one of the only South Siders drafted in a fantasy league?

Even with all that Abreu could bring to this team, this signing makes little sense for the Sox. This team is rebuilding, and that's an understatement. The Sox will be bad news in 2014, and probably for much longer than that. So, what will Abreu do for this team? The Sox may win 65 games next year instead of 60.

Abreu isn't young either. He'll be 27 on Opening Day, entering the prime of his career. By the time the Sox are good, he'll at least be 30. Even assuming that Abreu is a force in the lineup, the first three years of his contract will be a waste. And that's if he's good, which isn't a guarantee.

I'm not sure what value the Sox will get from this deal. It would be one thing if he was a steal, like the cheap (in comparison) contracts Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig signed for. Instead, he got a sizeable contract, over $11 million per year on average (of course, it depends how it's structured). It's a $68 million gamble the White Sox aren't in the best condition to take.

The Sox landed a talented hitter, someone who could crush baseballs all over the South Side over the next few years. Abreu will be a good story, a fun player to root for, and maybe even a reason to head out to the ballpark. The guy may very well be a superstar. It's too bad the rest of the Sox will be nowhere near as good.

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