Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has picked an agent stateside

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We learned last week that Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu had defected (reportedly to Haiti or the Dominican Republic) in an effort to make his way to the United States. Now he has picked an agent.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Abreu has selected Barry Praver and Bart Hernandez of Praver Shapiro Sports Management to represent him stateside. He’s slated to have a showcase for teams in September, though he’ll have to establish residency outside of Cuba and be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before being declared a free agent by MLB. That process could take a while.

Highly regarded for his power, Abreu is a 26-year-old first baseman who stands at an estimated 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Passan (and many others) believe that he could command the richest contract ever for a Cuban player, possibly approaching $60 million or more. Yasiel Puig’s seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers is currently the highest. Since Abreu is older than 23 and played in Cuba’s top league for more than three years, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.