Could Nationals Pursue Cuban Free Agent First Baseman Jose Abreu?

Chung Sung-Jun

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this August that the Nats had scouted Cuban free agent Jose Abreu. Baseball America's Ben Badler speculated today that the Nats might make sense as a destination for the first baseman...

Right-handed hitting, 26-year-old, Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu was declared a free agent and cleared to sign with an MLB team on September 28th. Baseball America's Ben Badler, who's been tracking the interest in the hard-hitting infielder, wrote last month that highly-regarded and much sought-after free agent had been scouted extensively in international competition. "Not only has the 26-year-old first baseman been a star in his home country," Mr. Badler wrote, "but major league teams have been able to evaluate Abreu extensively outside of Cuba."

"We've scouted him quite a bit in the international tournaments. He's a big physical power hitter. I think limited to first base." - Mike Rizzo on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. on Jose Abreu

In a mid-August interview, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN In D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier that the Nats were among those teams who've had a close look at Abreu.

"We've scouted him, obviously," Rizzo said. "We've scouted him quite a bit in the international tournaments. He's a big physical power hitter. I think limited to first base. And a guy that has a good approach to hitting from the right side and he's got big power. So, he's a big offensive type of player and we're going to continue to monitor him and see where it takes us."

Baseball America's Mr. Badler talked to "international sources" for an article he published today in which he listed five teams that he thought could potentially pursue Abreu and the Nationals made the top five. The BA writer identified first base as a position the Nats could potentially upgrade this winter after Adam LaRoche struggled in the first year of the 2-year/$24 deal he signed last winter, but noted that LaRoche does have a year at $12M and a mutual option at $15M or a $2M buyout left on the deal...

Mr. Badler reports in the article that there's a difference of opinion amongst scouts as to how Abreu will fare against major league pitching, but he notes that a general manager who, "... weighs performance data and his analysts’ statistical translations from foreign leagues more heavily into his decision-making process," might be more likely to value Abreu's accomplishments in Cuba.

"The Nationals' front office," he writes, "has a strong blend of scouting and analytics," and they also have history, the BA writer notes, with Abreu's representatives, Praver Shapiro Sports Management, who also represent Yunesky Maya, the "first major international signing" of the Rizzo regime in D.C.

Platoon with LaRoche while Abreu learns the major league game? Abreu vs Tyler Moore for that role?

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