Jose Dariel Abreu, who defected from Cuba two weeks ago, is working to establish residency in Haiti, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The big first baseman needs to jump through a bunch of hoops before he can officially be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, and establishing residency in a nearby country is a big one. Once Abreu gets his paperwork through with the Haitian government, his next step will be to seek clearance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and MLB.
Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports reported last week that Abreu had chosen Paver Shapiro Sports Management as his representation, and that he'd likely hold a showcase for MLB clubs some point in September. However, Sanchez hears that Abreu does not have a showcase scheduled at this time, and that he's unlikely to be deemed a free agent until sometime this offseason, so teams will not be able to negotiate with him if/when he holds a workout next month.
A slugger of the big, lumbering variety, the 26-year-old Abreu was one of the premier sluggers in Cuba's Serie Nacional, mashing to the tune of 382/.535/.735 in 2012-2013. U.S. teams and fans got a quick glimpse of Abreu during the spring's World Baseball Classic, where he hit three home runs in 25 at-bats.
Because he is over 23 years old and played at least three seasons in Cuba's top league, Abreu is not beholden to the international spending limits that typically keep signings in the high six and low seven figures. Like Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes before him, It's been rumored that Abreu could command a record contract for a Cuban defector, possibly something in the $60 million range.