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Market Watch: Jose Dariel Abreu

Written By: Derek VanRiper on 11/18/2013 8:56 AM
The White Sox's six-year, $68 million deal with Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu is larger than the contracts that Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig received from their respective big league clubs. As unknown rotisserie commodities, Cespedes and Puig turned out to be huge bargains for those who rolled the dice on their potential. Will Abreu's draft-day cost this spring follow suit?

The concerns with Abreu are rooted in his size (6-foot-2, 250+ pounds) and ability to handle breaking balls, but the consensus of the scouts that have seen him focuses on his plus power. No park in baseball amplified right-handed home runs more than U.S. Cellular Field from 2010-2012, which bodes well for his chances of providing an immediate power threat in the heart of the White Sox's lineup.

Abreu is the same age (26) as Cespedes was at the time of his signing (he'll turn 27 in January), so there may not be a significant amount of development left. Projections are a complete shot in the dark given the very limited looks we have received of Abreu, but .240-.250 with 25-30 homers and 90-100 RBI anchoring the middle of the White Sox's lineup is a reachable level if the scouting reports hold up and if he is given 500 at-bats in Year 1, and the ceiling is actually higher.

Here's a clip of Abreu going deep against the Netherlands during the World Baseball Classic in March:

For a more detailed breakdown of Abreu's swing, check out this article from Dan Farnsworth of FanGraphs.

Given the immediate success of Cespedes and Puig over the past two seasons, how much will the market drive up the price of Abreu? Not surprisingly, he was passed over during the first five rounds of a 15-team industry mock last month.

The low end average estimate and expected power production feels like a Mark Trumbo type rotisserie commodity -- albeit, one with considerably more upside and the chance to play half of his games in an extremely friendly hitters park. Trumbo went 49th overall in the aforementioned mock, but more importantly, carried a 99.3 average draft position (ADP) in NFBC Main Event Leagues in 2013.

The earliest that Puig was selected in an NFBC draft last spring was 197th overall, but his ADP was 413.3, thanks in large part to being buried on the depth chart behind three high-priced outfielders, and that the Dodgers wanted him to begin his professional career at Double-A. Cespedes was positioned to open the 2012 season in the A's Opening Day lineup upon signing with the club that February.

Cespedes carried an NFBC ADP of 196.9 in 2012, ranging as high as 79th overall and as low at 400th. In the 2012 Main Event draft that I participated in along with RotoWire's Scott Jenstad, he went 164th overall. (Thank You to @BillyHaze and @ScottJenstad for providing this data.)

On the industry side, Cespedes was purchased for $7 by Baseball HQ's Patrick Davitt during the mixed Tout Wars auction in March of 2012. Jason Collette paid $15 for him in the AL auction.

Puig was a second-round reserve pick in the 2013 edition of mixed Tout (Davitt was the owner), while Lenny Melnick threw a $1 endgame bid at the Double-A bound outfielder during the NL auction.

With the limited information we have -- age, scouting reports and expected role, it's reasonable to think that Abreu could fall in the wide 100-150th overall range in NFBC drafts, while carrying some potential volatility depending on his performance and appearance to scouts getting a look at him for the first time during Cactus League play during spring training.

The first-base eligible players selected in that range in 2013 included:

Mark Trumbo (99.3)
Ryan Howard (105.6)
Ike Davis (107.5)
Paul Konerko (110.1)
Chris Davis (124.9)
Adam LaRoche (129.1)
Kendrys Morales (138.8)

Thinking about the poor quality of returns from five of those seven players (injuries were a factor for many), it becomes easy to rationalize the plunge on Abreu.

Where will you be taking him -- in drafts? Mixed/AL-only auctions? Fire away in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.

By Erik Siegrist, 11/18/2013 2:13 PM
He'd be a big target for me right now in my home AL-only league auction in the spring, except my corner spots might be clogged up heading into the auction by Miggy, Hosmer, and Matt Dominguez. If I can deal Dominguez in the offseason (he's at a respectable $10 salary) to free up a spot, I'll be looking to spend in the teens for Abreu (there are enough prospect hounds in the league that I can't see him going cheaper... Aaron Hicks went for $19 and Jackie Bradley for $14, for instance) but can't see going over $20 for him.

By Derek VanRiper, 11/19/2013 2:45 PM
I'd imagine $15-17 will be typical in 12-team AL-only leagues, while keeper leagues might push toward $19-20.