Several people I spoke with and greatly respect said they were disappointed the Mets didn’t make a run at Cuban free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68-million contract with the Chicago White Sox.
Considering the success of Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, all of a sudden tapping the Cuban market is the hot thing. Teams get burned touching hot objects.
Abreu, 26, last played on an international stage during the World Baseball Classic this spring and batted .360 with three homers and nine RBI. Prior to that, he batted .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI in 63 games in the 2010-11 season, but sustained a shoulder injury. The previous season, he batted .399 with 30 home runs and 76 RBI.
No doubt, impressive numbers, but the obvious question is: How good was the competition. Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw don’t pitch in Cuba.
The eye-popping number for Abreu isn’t his power against questionable competition, but the $68 million, which is very real money.
That is a lot of money on a question, albeit an important one for the 2014 Mets. They already have two first basemen in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but both have greatly under produced and the Mets aren’t happy with either.
The White Sox traded Jake Peavy and Alex Rios to free up money for Abreu, and now have to deal with their own free-agent in Paul Konerko.
It has been suggested in this corner the Mets might be better if they eschewed big-money free agents and go the route Boston did, with veteran free agents who would command less money and would contribute a winning presence, such as Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.
The Red Sox will play Game 6 of the ALCS Saturday night.
Yes, Konerko is an older player, but he can’t do any worse than Davis or Duda. If nothing, his work ethic might benefit some of the younger players.
The Mets have been down this road before, but Konerko could add something while Abreu was a passing fancy.
We know very little about Abreu as a player against quality competition, but there are many questions when deciding to go the international route. Mainly, do the Mets want to sink in $68 million in a player they know precious little about?
After freeing themselves under Sandy Alderson of the contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana and Jason Bay (there’s still some deferred money there), but last thing the Mets want to do is sink money in another long-term deal, especially with the possible results so precarious.
Maybe Abreu will pan out for the White Sox. If so, good for them. But, the last thing the Mets need is another long-term headache.
The Mets were wise to sit this one out.