The White Sox have officially announced the signing of Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract. According to the team's official release, the first baseman will receive a $10MM signing bonus before earning $7MM in 2014-15, $10MM in 2016, $10.5MM in 2017, $11.5MM in 2018 and $12MM in 2019. Abreu, who isrepresented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management, can opt out of the guaranteed salaries in lieu of arbitration after three years if he wishes, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (on Twitter).
Within the release, White Sox GM Rick Hahn offered the following quote:
"We are very excited to add a talent like Jose to our roster for the next several years. His skill set should translate very well to our ballpark, and we expect him to be a part of successful White Sox teams throughout his time in Chicago."
The Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, Marlins and Giants all reportedly showed interest in Abreu. The White Sox, however, were able to lure him with a contract that's the biggest ever for an international free agent. The contract easily tops the seven-year, $42MM contract Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers last year.
Abreu, 26, posted video-game-like numbers in Cuba's Serie Nacional, and his power is very highly regarded. Athletics assistant GM David Forst, for example, favorably compared Abreu to Ryan Howard. Some experts have had concerns about Abreu's bat speed, however, and many have been critical of his athleticism and defense. Tim Dierkes' free agent profile predicted Abreu would get six years and $54MM.
In the short term, the signing should help the White Sox generate fan excitement after a miserable 99-loss season in 2013. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn shared the first base position for the White Sox last season, and both struggled. Konerko is now a free agent, and it's unclear whether he will return next year. If he does, he could get at bats at designated hitter. The White Sox still owe Dunn $15MM for 2014.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports originally reported (via Twitter) that Abreu would sign for six years and $68MM, and that the White Sox were the likely team. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez was the first to confirm the official agreement and that the White Sox were indeed the signing team (also on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post.