The Chicago White Sox have agreed to a six-year, $68 million contract with Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The deal is pending a physical, and should be finalized within the next few days.
Due to budgetary restrictions, the White Sox are a bit of a surprise destination for Abreu, who is receiving the largest contract for an international free agent in major league history. The previous record was set in 2012, when the Dodgers rewarded outfielder Yasiel Puig with a seven-year, $42 million deal.
By signing with the White Sox, Abreu will become the team's long-term solution at first base in place of veteran Paul Konerko. Konerko, who is entering his age-38 season, has been noncommittal about playing in 2014, but the South Siders' decision to add Abreu will likely cause the sides to part ways after fifteen seasons regardless of if Konerko will play in 2014 or not. At this point, the most likely scenario is that Konerko will retire after hitting only .244 with 12 HR and 54 RBI in 126 games on the season.
Since breaking onto the scene in Cuba, Abreu has been one of the best hitters in the country. After hitting .453 in Cuba's Serie Nacional from 2010 to 2011, Abreu hit .394 in 2011-2012 and .382 in 2012-2013. The right-handed hitter is known for his raw power, and he impressed scouts in this year's World Baseball Classic by hitting .360 with 3 HR and 9 RBI in six games.
By receiving an average annual value of $11.33 million, the 6'2", 255-pound Abreu is setting the bar high for this offseason's crop of free agent first basemen. Pending free agents Mike Napoli, Justin Morneau, James Loney and Kendrys Morales all may receive multi-year deals on the open market as well.