Jose Abreu’s reported $68 million deal with the White Sox isn’t even official yet and there are already lots of prominent media members questioning whether Chicago over-committed to an “untested” player with some question marks attached.
I have no idea. I’ve seen Abreu play a couple times on television, I’ve read the same write-ups everyone else has, and I’ve looked at his incredible numbers in Cuba. But that’s about it. However, it’s worth noting that a year ago plenty of people were mocking the Dodgers for signing another Cuban defector, Yasiel Puig, for $42 million.
For instance, here’s what Ben Badler of Baseball America–who’s my pick for the best writer covering international prospects–wrote about the Puig deal in June of 2012:
The Dodgers appear to have made a statement with an expensive Cuban signing, but the message they sent across baseball has mostly elicited the same response: What are the Dodgers thinking? …
The question around baseball is how the Dodgers could justify awarding such a lavish contract to a player who scouts considered more of a solid than a spectacular prospect. … One executive called the deal “crazy.” Several others were floored by the reported contract terms. “I don’t know,” said one international director, echoing several of his colleagues. “I don’t know what’s going on in Dodger land. They must have seen something.”
Those who have seen Puig seem lukewarm on his talent. … He is an interesting prospect with raw talent, but for several teams, he wouldn’t have even been a first-round pick if he were in the draft.
A year later signing Puig to a long-term deal that pays $6 million per season looks like an incredible bargain. Abreu isn’t Puig, obviously, and perhaps he’ll prove to be a huge bust, but there’s also a nearly guaranteed heaping of heavy skepticism that comes attached to basically any big-money international signing. Last offseason Edwin Jackson got $52 million, Nick Swisher got $56 million, and B.J. Upton got $75 million, so $68 million isn’t exactly superstar money in free agency.