LOS ANGELES – It remains to be seen if the Giants will make a hard push for power-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu.
But they’re taking a hard look.
Giants GM Brian Sabean and special assistant Felipe Alou were spotted in the Dominican Republic scouting the Cuban first baseman, according to Dionision Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.
Abreu, 26, was considered Cuba’s top hitter before defecting in July. He’s not yet cleared to sign because he hasn’t established residency in another country yet. But major league officials anticipate that he’ll be on the open market this winter, and he’ll get a bigger guarantee than the seven-year, $42 million deal that Yasiel Puig signed with the Dodgers last year.
Abreu is older than 23 and has played at least three seasons of organized baseball in Cuba, which means any funds the Giants or any other team would commit would not count toward their international signing cap.
Signing Abreu would mean shifting around some parts for the Giants, notably moving Brandon Belt to left field. But the Giants are on pace to hit just 98 homers – fewer, even, than their major league-last 103 home runs in 2012.
And although they managed to win without the longball last season, their offense has had a particularly tough time being competitive at home this year. They just won their first homestand since May 20-26.
As I wrote two weeks ago, the success and impact of Puig has caused the Giants to rethink the potential rewards of signing high-risk international players.
“The risk and cost assessment has to be part of the equation,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans told me. “As for the rewards, you do look at what some of these recent high-risk signings have done. It does give you a sense of `This is the potential.’ It does give you that desire to say, `Hey, can we get the next one?’”