According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the White Sox will sign Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu to record 6-year, $68M deal, financially trumping previous international signings Yasiel Puig and Yu Darvish in the process. Abreu cannibalized his countrymen in the Cuban Serie Nacional, by hitting nearly .400 in 2010 and 2011. He also channeled Alexander the Great, conquering a large cross section of the planet in this year's World Baseball Classic. Needles to say, the White Sox are hoping he can help them the way Puig and Yoenis Cespedes have helped their teams.
The international market has made a massive impact on baseball in 2013. Hyun-jin Ryu, Yu Darvish, and Norichika Aoki have made excellent transitions from other international talent pools, in addition to Latin American players like Puig and Cespedes. It's a thriving market. And one that has grown significantly since the early days of Ichiro. There are still a few potential superstars knocking on the Major League door. Now, it's just a matter of who can answer first.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has spoken of an International Draft in the past, but as the market stands now, teams are pitted against one another in a good old-fashioned bidding war for the services of these potentially game-ready contributors. An International Draft would certainly change the landscape of these acquisitions, however, players like Abreu and Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka wouldn't likely be subject to a new draft. Baseball America's Ben Badler spoke with Beyond the Box Score this summer about several aspects of such a draft, including who, and who might not be, eligible. A world-wide draft could create many problems for MLB and it's constituents to deal with. With birth record verification, a massive slotting project, and what would equate to a Planet Earth collective bargaining agreement, a draft of this kind would likely be a trial-and-error endeavor for many years.
The dream of playing Major League Baseball can be hard to bring into reality for players from abroad. For example, defecting from Cuba is a very different undertaking than being posted via NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan). Players like Abreu are tasked with the painstaking challenge of, first, securing reliable passage out of Cuba, then establishing residency in a foreign country, and validate their right to play Major League Baseball -- while leaving their family and homeland behind in the process. Making the transition from another Latin American country or Japan is certainly no cakewalk, but defecting from Cuba can be a problematic enterprise, to say the least.
No matter how teams go about acquiring these players, the nets they cast are likely to widen considering the recent results. Tanaka and Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon are likely to garner serious interest from several clubs as the offseason begins to unfold. Abreu's Cuban National teammate Alexander Guerrero has also drawn weighty interest from NL West rivals Los Angeles and San Francisco, amongst other teams.
With Yasiel Puig already tearing up that division, and Yu Darvish leaping Texan skyscrapers in a single bound, the international hub is in the midst of announcing themselves to Major League Baseball with an all-out sonic boom. And now that the White Sox have a claim on Abreu's bat, the AL Central better get used to that sound.