The White Sox reportedly have agreed to sign Cuban star Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal, pending a physical. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: Sox general manager Rick Hahn comes across as kind of a skinny nerd, but he muscled up to outbid the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros for Cuban power hitter Jose Abreu. What's your take, is this muy bien or muy mal or muy somewhere in between?
Styf: We always hear that the White Sox have a barren farm system, so anything to get a little younger is good. That being said, you worry they are getting another Adam Dunn. Some power, some strikeouts and a very low batting average.
Musick: I'm just glad that the Sox made a bold move. I'm all for the South Siders doing something, anything, to be less boring than they were in 2012. Every time I arrived to U.S. Cellular Field last summer, I felt like I had downed a pint of NyQuil.
Styf: I blame Puig. Yasiel is ruining the game, right? I mean, you saw his third game when you were out in LA, covering that hockey stuff, and he was terrible that one night. His success, and Yoenis too, have really upped the market on Cuban hitters. Those guys weren't high-profile players in Cuba and came to the U.S. to become stars. The thought process is that they're not alone. But it also doesn't make every other player from the island good. The main issue is how little real information teams have about Cuban prospects. It's really a chance, but one that could pay off huge. The White Sox have an immediate hole with Paul Konerko likely retiring. They need someone to play the position. Let's just hope he doesn't flip his bat if he ever homers.
Musick: Puig really let me down that night. Some sports editor had told me all about this new, exciting prospect who had made his debut a few days earlier, and I showed up to Dodger Stadium just in time to see him go 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts. I think you're right, though, Abreu basically is a $68 million lottery ticket for the Sox. But why not buy that ticket? He's 26, and if he ends up being able to hit 25-plus home runs a season, he will have earned his paycheck. And for what it's worth, I'm OK with the look-at-me bat flip, although maybe he should make sure that the ball actually will clear the fence before he starts to party.
Styf: The sad thing here, for Sox fans, is that it likely does mean Konerko is done. Paul didn't sound like he wanted to come back and play on a bad team. This is probably, either way, a bad team next year. And the year after that. I just don't see that light at the end of the tunnel for them, and I certainly don't think this signing is it. I mean, he's no Kris Bryant (Cubs 3B prospect who hit two huge homers Friday in the Arizona Fall League).
Musick: I still think there is a slim chance Konerko returns, but if it happens, he would have to settle for being an occasional starter and a right-handed bat off of the bench. That doesn't seem appropriate for a guy who hit 427 homers and brought a World Series title to the South Side. If this marks the end for Konerko, the Sox will have to bring him back for a well-deserved tribute next spring, and then he can settle into a front-row seat to see what Abreu can do.