We’ve heard a lot about intelligent spending from the Cubs to this point, but defining exactly what that means has been a product of speculation to this point. Even if things can’t completely clear up on that front until free agency officially begins, the latest report from Bruce Levine on 670 The Score Saturday morning makes a whole lot of sense on a number of levels.
Levine said on Inside the Clubhouse that the Cubs have interest in former White Sox first baseman/DH José Abreu, who will be a free agent this winter. The 35-year-old would be as close to a perfect fit as Jed Hoyer is going to find and would likely be amenable to an offer from the Cubs because it means he can stay in Chicago with what figures to be an improved team.
Though his power was down noticeably this season with career lows of a .141 ISO and 15 home runs, Abreu batted .304 and struck out at a career-best 16.2% in 679 plate appearances. He’s a great clubhouse guy who would be able to platoon with Matt Mervis at both first base and DH, the latter of which will be open if the Cubs non-tender Franmil Reyes. With Abreu presumably serving more frequently at DH, Patrick Wisdom could also move around between corner spots.
The Cubs will be in need of a veteran leader Willson Contreras opts to sign elsewhere, and they need a lot more credibility in that lineup. Even if Abreu is no longer able to supply the power Hoyer talked about needing to add, things look really promising when you add him together with Mervis. Combine that with a big-time shortstop target and you’ve one hell of an infield.
This is far from a done deal, however, as Levine added that the Cubs aren’t the only team interested in Abreu. They do seem to have a bit of an advantage, or at least they don’t have a disadvantage, and I have to think they’d be the favorites to sign him as long as their offer is in the ballpark. As to what that offer would have to be, I really have no idea.
Maybe something like $30-35 million for two years with some incentives and a third-year option? It’s also important to note that Abreu has previously received a qualifying offer from the Sox and can’t receive another one, so there would be no penalties involved in signing him. We know the Cubs are targeting shorter deals and are willing to inflate the AAV to make them work, so this is exactly the type of situation that fits their needs.
We’ll hear more about this possibility in the coming weeks, and I’d actually be surprised if this isn’t one of the first moves the Cubs look to make once free agency opens up.