Reacting to the Jose Abreu signing reactions

Koji Watanabe

Survey of opinions underscores risks worth understanding, but White Sox fans can be excited as they want to be

The White Sox made a long-overdue offseason splash by reportedly signing Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal, but the wake is relatively subdued. There's a wide range of opinion, but most of it remains measured, perhaps because the Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig deals have shown up stronger skeptics. Abreu's defecting predecessors make it simply too interesting to slam.

There's a range of doubts -- about Abreu's skills, about the White Sox's ability to use his prime, about the allocation of resources and trends across baseball -- but doubts and questions are present, valid and worthy of discussion. The power is tantalizing across the board, and by the end of it, you can pretty much find somebody who seconds your thoughts, whatever they are.

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Excerpt:

The bigger concern scouts have about Abreu is that he might have more of a "slider-speed" bat that will struggle with velocity, especially on the inner half. He's extremely balanced at the plate and very strong, with a setup like a right-handed David Ortiz, and very good follow-through for power to all fields. He hasn't faced many pitchers with plus fastballs, and between his size and the questionable bat speed, several scouts indicated to me that they're concerned that major league pitchers will eat him up with velocity on the inner half.

He's got a quiet approach at the plate, like Puig's, but he doesn't explode to the ball in the same way as Puig or current Cubs prospect Jorge Soler do, and Abreu's pitch recognition and plate discipline are largely unknown, putting a wide variance on his potential production in the majors.

He has a point...

While Abreu is signed for six years, his skill set and body type might make him a bad bet to continue performing at a multi-win level after 30 ... which is when the White Sox might theoretically be contending. The deal has a chance to muck up a roster spot or two when things start to get interesting, and then Rick Hahn's in a similar position the Sox have struggled to deal with before.

He might be off...

Making an argument based on the theory of a success cycle lacks vitality when payroll space isn't at a premium, especially when we've seen teams like the Rays, Indians and Red Sox reverse their records ahead of schedule. Law, a critic of the Sox's farm system, glossed over a key factor in pursuing Abreu: He's the only potentially game-changing bat that doesn't cost the Sox a draft pick or amateur pool money, something you'd think he'd appreciate.

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Excerpt:

Abreu is, by all reports, strictly a 1B/DH type, and comparisons to guys like Ryan Howard don’t exactly inspire confidence that he’s more 1B than DH. The entirety of Abreu’s value is likely going to come from how well he hits. And $70 million for a guy who has to hit in order to be a big leaguer seems like a bit of a gamble, given that hitting seems to be the single hardest thing to forecast.

He has a point...

Baseball players would prefer to have a wider variety of skills, because baseball is a really tough sport, and you can't count on one standout skill always getting the job done. He also points out that doubting scouts aren't any kind of red flag -- scouts are seldom unanimous on any player, and the Sox had plenty of company in their pursuit of Abreu.

He might be off...

Cameron believes a win on the open market costs $5 million, although more compelling arguments lead to $7 million. Either way, depending on the structure of Abreu's contract, the Sox might not need as much from Abreu as Cameron is anticipating to justify the investment year to year.

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Excerpt:

Maybe I'm high on narrative, but there's something to this. The Ellsbury/Pedroia/Ortiz head start can't be overstated -- those three players staying healthy and effective meant more to the Red Sox than any free-agent acquisitions. The White Sox don't have three players that good, either. But they have options now, just like the Red Sox did. They have holes to fill if they want to fill them, and the Abreu deal was a mighty fine head start.

I'm not going to play Rick Hahn and fill in the gaps, but there are options, just like there were for the Red Sox. And even without Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy, the White Sox still have an enviable front four. I'd give that rotation better odds for success than I would have given the Red Sox this year.

He has a point...

Unlike Law, Brisbee doesn't pay much attention to the success cycle, instead focusing on offensive scarcity -- both with the White Sox and on the open market. There's nothing wrong with investing in the 25-man roster on a non-contending team if it doesn't block interesting prospects or cost draft picks.

He might be off ...

He admits that the White Sox don't have Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz, and ... yeah, they really don't.

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For months, the White Sox have refused to comment much about their plan of attack for the offseason.

Week after week, all that Rick Hahn would say was that the organization was committed to developing talent, the draft, international signings, and free agents. Given the menu at the Rebuilding Restaurant and asked what he liked best, he said, "Everything," which is the same as not answering.

Well, now we’ve got something concrete filed under "international signings."

She has a point ...

It's startling but true when she writes, "The Sox have already done more than they did all of last offseason." Also, while the move is White Soxy in terms of skill set, the move skews the roster younger, which is a needed statement.

She might be off ...

While she is only suggesting it as a Plan B (at best), if Dayan Viciedo's glove is needed at first because Abreu can't hack it, that's a big problem. Especially if it's before the aging happens.

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Excerpt:

Over the past three offseasons, four free-agent first basemen have signed multi-year deals: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher, and Adam LaRoche. The attribute linking the four together is power; excuse LaRoche's injury-shortened 2011, and each player averaged at least 25 home runs per season in the three years before signing. Power gets first basemen paid, and Abreu is no exception.

How much power are we talking about? Jason Parks threw a plus-plus grade on Abreu's raw strength, while giving him a 6 in usability. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who talked to a number of scouts and talent evaluators about Abreu, echoed Parks' sentiment when he wrote that "the consensus is that he has the strength to hit 30 homers by accident." There are questions about whether Abreu's pop will translate. His bat speed has been criticized and he has a closed stride and double toe-tap, which means pitchers are likely to test him with velocity inside and breaking balls away. Yet 30-home run potential is nothing to sneeze at anymore—especially when confined in a package known for a smart approach at the plate. Ten first basemen homered 30 or more times back in 2003, just six did it in 2013. Times have changed.

He has a point...

He praises the Sox's aggressiveness for pursuing a scarce skill that fits on their roster, but notes the sizable risk involved: "Teams don't give league-average players six-year deals, for a reason."

He might be off...

Nothing that I can see. It's a sound five paragraphs.

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