As reported by Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, San Francisco Giants General Manager Brian Sabean is scouting Cuban prospect Jose Abreu. If the Giants do sign Abreu, it will be for next season since, although he has defected from Cuba, he hasn’t established residency in the US yet.
Abreu is a slugger. He is also batting well. He was close to winning two Triple Crowns in the Cuban National Series league, and he consistently hit 30 home runs per year. Abreu was seen in action in the World Baseball Classic in Marcher, where he hit batted .360 and hit three home runs and nine RBI—in six games.
San Francisco could use more power hitting. They are on pace to hit even fewer than the 103 home runs they hit last year, which was last place in Major League Baseball. Adding Abreu to the roster would be a good start to adding more power to the team.
A lot of teams have been looking at international players. A lot of teams have signed international players as well. With the trend of looking at players outside the US, you may be wondering if that’s such a good idea. After all, aren’t there plenty of good players here in America? Here are some pros and cons of signing an international player in Major League Baseball.
This is the big one. If nothing else, it gives teams more players to look at. In the case of the Giants, if Sabean likes Abreu but can’t sign him due to a more attractive offer given to Abreu (in whatever terms that may be), Sabean still has other options to go to. The converse is also true. If there’s an American player he’s interested in signing but can’t, he can look at international players as an alternative.
High Potential Reward
In other words, some international players have put up big numbers in the Major Leagues. Take a look at Yu Darvish. He came over to the US to play in the Major Leagues in 2012, and this year he has put up great numbers for the Texas Rangers. He has an ERA or 2.81, 13 wins, and 260 strikeouts—all ranked number one on the team. Players such as Shin Shoo Choo, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasiel Puig are examples of other international players putting up great numbers for their teams as well.
Foreign Success Doesn’t Always Carry Over
Scouts see international players playing in leagues from their home countries before a team wants to sign them. The top international prospects are the very best of these leagues. Occasionally, that success doesn’t always translate to the MLB. Oakland found that out the hard way. They signed Hiroyuki Nakajima after seeing the numbers he put up in the Japan leagues; however, his numbers after Spring Training were dismal, Nakajima was batting .150. He went from a two-year 6.5 million dollar contract and hopes of being a starting short stop to being removed from the 40-man roster to play in the minor leagues.
Some Players Have Trouble Fitting In
This isn’t a huge issue, but it has been known to happen. I’m going to mention Cespedes and Puig since they are both also from Cuba. Puig is generally disliked by other players for doing things that other players around the league frown upon. The latest such thing Puig has done is diss Diamondbacks legend Luis Gonzalez. Cespedes has no similar dislike directed towards him from other players. He was, however, offered to be represented by rap star Jay-Z. This was an offer a lot of other players would have loved and would have made him more marketable. Cespedes turned down the offer.
International Players Aren’t Cheaper
For those of you thinking you could sign an international player instead of one from the US to save money can think again. Top Foreign prospects are still signing nice, fat contracts to play in America. For example, here are some recent contracts signed by international players: Shin-Shoo Choo, one-year 7.4 million dollars; Yu Darvish, six-year 60 million dollars; Yasiel Puig, seven-year, 42 million dollars, Yoenis Cespedes, four-year 36 million dollars.