International Notes: Abreu, Red Sox, Cubs, Nationals

The Red Sox don't yet have a scouting report on Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, GM Ben Cherington tells WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show (via Alex Speier of "We just don’t know him well enough yet," Cherington says. "And of course until he’s gone through the process of getting cleared and all that, there’s really not much to say. As with any player that comes out of Cuba and has a chance to help us, we’ll certainly do the work that we need to do." With Mike Napoli set for free agency, the Red Sox could easily clear space for Abreu at first base, and they also have the money to make a competitive bid for a player who's likely to receive the biggest contract ever given to an international free agent, so the Red Sox appear likely to give Abreu a close look. (Since Abreu is 26 and has many years of experience in a Cuban professional league, he is not subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.)

Here are more notes on international signings.

  • Abreu may do tryouts as he moves toward a deal with an MLB team, but he doesn't really need to, Baseball America's Ben Badler tweets. Teams already have access to plenty of information about Abreu, Badler argues.
  • The Cubs decided to splurge on international spending this season because they had the second-largest international bonus pool,'s Carrie Muskat reports. Another factor in the Cubs' thinking was their belief that there wouldn't be an international draft in 2014. That means they'll be taxed at 100 percent of their pool overage if they go 10 to 15% over their pool value, and they won't be able to sign any international free agent for more than $500K. "Next year, we'll spread our money around with some pitching instead of going after the large investments. We like the large investments this year," team president Theo Epstein says. The Cubs have spent a total of $7.895MM on Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres, Taiwanese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng, Dominican pitcher Jefferson Mejia, Colombian pitcher Erling Moreno and Dominican catcher Johan Matos.
  • The Nationals' signing of Dominican third baseman Anderson Franco for $900K is part of an effort to become more aggressive in Latin America, the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore reports. A scandal resulting from the Nationals' 2006 signing of a 16-year-old shortstop named Esmailyn Gonzalez — later revealed to actually be a 20-year-old shortstop named Carlos Alvarez — led to the departures of then-GM Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo. Since signing Gonzalez/Alvarez for $1.4MM, the Nationals had not spent more than $385K on a Latin American free agent, Kilgore notes.

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