Aug 21, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. The Dodgers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
There has been plenty of social media speculation that the Marlins may make a serious run at signing recent Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu as soon as he establishes Haitian residency and is eligible for free agency. Recent defectors Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and the Marlins’ own Jose Fernandez have made an impact on their respective teams. Although he hasn’t had an open showcase yet, the initial buzz on Abreu is that he’s got a huge bat.
Miami, Cuban culture, and baseball are inextricably linked. After last year’s out-of-context skewering of Ozzie Guillen’s Castro comment, team owner Jeffrey Lori could use some non-toxic ink tossed his way. Between the Time magazine hit piece, the stadium financing mess, and last winter’s trades, Loria managed to piss off all three cornerstones of the Marlins’ fan base. From a purely PR perspective, there’s a lot for the front office to like in Abreu. He would be the third Cuban defector on the team. The first two are doing remarkably well, and generating excitement at the ballpark. The matchup between Jose Fernandez and that guy from the Dodgers drew almost 6,000 walkup fans to the ticket windows on Monday.
The same initial buzz about Abreu’s bat also has an undercurrent of whispers about his athleticism. Specifically, about the lack of it. He may have a huge bat, but it seems his primary application of that bat is as a spoon. The Marlins are finally reaping the benefits of a healthy Logan Morrison at first base. In the last month, he’s posted a .297/.373/.407 slash line with 15 RBI and eight doubles. A guy like Abreu seems to be more suited to an AL team, where he can hit in a DH slot and platoon with a first baseman for occasional rest days.
In my mind, the need for good PR doesn’t quite trump the lack of athleticism. Both the Chicago and Boston Sox have shown interest, as has Baltimore. So….let them haggle for him. Let’s continue to enjoy the run of good health and good hitting Logan Morrison has been showing, and not run the risk of signing a guy that might take two years to turn into a good DH. Besides, my Twitter feed would be boring if we dealt Morrison.
Fortunately, official rumor agrees with me. There has not been an official expression of interest from the club, and MLBTR hasn’t unearthed much in the way of Marlins/Abreu speculation.