Who is Jose Abreu?

By Melissa Felkins

Jose Abreu. Credit: Creative Commons

The name Jose Abreu has been making the rounds the past few days among the Giants’ fans and beat writers. Abreu is a Cuban first-baseman that has attracted the attention of the media, as well as San Francisco Giants General Manager, Brian Sabean. While there is no word right now on whether the Giants organization will try to sign Abreu or not, but we do know that Sabean, along with Special Assistant Felipe Alou, was scouting him in the Dominican Republic recently, according to Dionision Soldevila of ESPNDeportes (via Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area).

What we do know about Abreu is this: He’s a 26-year-old power-hitting first baseman who recently defected from Cuba. He’s played baseball in Cuba at least 3 seasons and is expected to get a bigger payout in the offseason than fellow countryman Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Puig’s contract is 7-years and $42 million. This season, Abeu hit .382 in 42 games with 13 home runs. Last season he hit .394 with 35 home runs in 71 games. He’s also been scouted by other teams, most notably, the Boston Red Sox.

A signing of Abreu by the Giants could force current first baseman Brandon Belt into left field. It would be an interesting signing and I can only speculate it is on the table because of his power hitting ability and the recent success of other Cuban defects such as Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. The Giants most certainly are not likely to be in the market for him because of his ability to play first base, considering the recent success of Brandon Belt, and the probability of playing Buster Posey at first base more often as his career continues.

However, signing Abreu and moving Belt to left field, if he can prove to play left field effectively,  could solve two of the Giants’ problems from this season: hitting for power  and having an everyday, power-hitting left fielder in Belt. Money toward the contract may or may not be an issue. Teams are likely to throw money at the Cuban phenom, and the Giants will be freeing up some money next season simply by losing Barry Zito‘s contract. However, locking up Hunter Pence, solidifying the rotation with or without Tim Lincecum, and potentially re-signing Javier Lopez could make the Giants’ discretionary funds disappear quickly.