UPDATE 10/17 7:00 p.m. ET: The White Sox may hold the golden ticket to Jose Abreu's bat. Chicago has reportedly put in a $70 million offer on the table for the Cuban slugger, reports Peter Gammons of MLB Network.
Gammons iterates the "gist of the opinion"(?) is that Chicago's offer has them winning the bid for Abreu over the Astros, but nothing has been confirmed at this point. Houston reportedly put in a bid of between $50-60 million.
The Red Sox allegedly put in an offer for over $40 million, but that has fallen far short of the mark.
UPDATE 10/17 4:30 p.m. ET: The Houston Astros have made a "strong offer" for Cuban slugger Jose Abreu but are "all but certain" that they've fallen short in their effort to sign him, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.
The club's offer to the power-hitting first baseman was rumored to be between $50-60 million, so whoever's out-gunned Houston is putting up unheard of money to do so. The standing record contract for a Cuban defector is Yasiel Puig's seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers, which Abreu appears to be blowing out of the water.
Before word of the offer came to light, Olney speculated that the Astros and White Sox and Astros had the best chance of landing Abreu. Now that Houston has been spurned, it seems that Chicago may be in the driver's seat. Jon Heyman's spider-sense agrees with Olney:
Hear #chisox strong on abreu bidding.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 17, 2013
However, as free-agent shenanigans have taught us in the past, we should never sleep on the mystery team. The Rangers -- the third of the Wednesday's frontrunner trio -- may still be in the race. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly out of the running.
The 26-year-old Abreu, who was officially declared a free agent a few weeks ago, is expected to sign a contract in the neighborhood of $70 million sometime this winter. In addition to the trio of presumed frontrunners, several other teams -- including the Marlins, Red Sox, Mets and Pirates -- have also shown interest in the big-bodied slugger, so a bidding war for his services could potentially push that record dollar figure higher.
The power-hitting first baseman, who defected in August, hit .382/.535/.735 with 13 home runs over 42 games in the shortened 2012-2013 Serie Nacional season, his last in Cuba. He also hit three home runs in 25 at-bats during the World Baseball Classic in March.
At 6'2, 258 pounds, Abreu is rather limited in his options position-wise (read: 1B/DH), but his prodigious power -- which has been described as "monstrous" by one scout ESPN spoke to -- may make up for shortcomings on defense and on the base-paths.
The White Sox, Astros and Rangers are all in very different positions as organizations, but they all potentially have needs to fill at 1B/DH this winter. If Chicago does not re-sign Paul Konerko again, for instance, then their internal options at first next year are essentially limited to Adam Dunn. Houston and Texas have team-controlled incumbent first basemen -- Chris Carter and Mitch Moreland, respectively -- but neither are viewed as the club's long-term solution at the cold corner.