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Jose Abreu and the lack of free-agent power

If you want dingers, where do you go?

Dennis Grombkowski

The Giants have hit 16 homers since the All-Star Break. Chris Davis and Khris Davis have combined for more home runs than the Giants since the All-Star break.

This is a problem for the Giants. They need 18 homers in the next 27 games to catch the 1994 Giants. Who went on strike. There have been 25 teams with at least twice as many home runs as the Giants in the second half.

It's not a problem that's wholly restricted to the Giants, though. The Mets have hit 25 homers in the second half. The Marlins have hit 18. And, really, who doesn't want more dingers? Every team wants more dingers. If you're a team that wants more dingers, you sit around, spitballin', bunch of guys in suits and whatnot, saying, hey, how can we get more dingers?

The answer is … bleak.

Jon Heyman put together a top-50 list of the pending free agents, and while you're free to quibble with the precise rankings, it's not like he forgot to add a 29-year-old Jim Thome to the list. What you see is what you get when it comes to power.

So if you want dingers, here are your 20 best options in the power department:

1. Mike Napoli
2. Curtis Granderson
3. Robinson Cano
4. Nelson Cruz
5. Kendrys Morales
6. Carlos Beltran
7. Hunter Pence
8. Brian McCann
9. Shin-Soo Choo
10. Corey Hart
11. Justin Morneau
12. Michael Morse
13. Jacoby Ellsbury?
14. Oh, come on
15. Raul Ibanez
16. Raul Ibanez
17. Raul Ibanez
18. Just sign Raul Ibanez
19. Raul Ibanez
20. Raul Ibanez

Everyone wants dingers. Not as many people want Raul Ibanez. Every one of those players comes with a caveat. Mike Napoli is old, has contact issues, and can't play defense. Curtis Granderson has been hurt and is going to be 33. Cano is going to get a nine-figure deal. Cruz was literally -- look it up -- busted for performance-enhancing drugs. Morales comes with defensive concerns, Beltran played on a team with Walt Whitman, Pence is on the team that can't hit home runs right now, and McCann is an oft-injured catcher.

You can keep going. Other than that, the power market's fine.

Which is all to say, I'd like to revisit an article I wrote recently. It was a tepid endorsement of Jose Abreu. It compared Abreu to Yasiel Puig. Both are from Cuba, which means they're practically the same person, like Mike Trout and Liberace, who were both born in the same country, too. But comparing Abreu to Puig? A losing battle.

Comparing Abreu to the list up there? You have yourself a bidding war. The 26-year-old first baseman is the best bet for power on a contract that will hold up over time. Think about it, what are you getting with Cano? He's about to enter his decline phase. That goes for, well, everyone on that list. Free agency is an old man's game. So if you want power, you're going to have to buy the decline along with it.

Even if you don't know exactly what you have with Abreu, there's a chance you could have it for a long time. A five-year deal would put him back on the market at 31 -- right when he starts getting worse.

That's the perfect deal. If he's actually good. Which is a secret to everybody. But maybe he's all of the good things about Ryan Howard without any of the bad things. And if there's a scouting director who's adamant that the power is real and that the rest of the skills will play, Abreu will be quite rich.

The risk for teams looking for power this offseason is that they'll buy into an uncertain situation. That's exactly what they'll get with Abreu, too. But they'll have to measure the risk of the unknown vs. the risk of the known, which is the decline of over-30 sluggers.

If you're looking for dingers, then, give Abreu a whirl. An expensive whirl. But as far as gambles go, this might the most reasonable of the bunch, improbably enough. Everyone else is getting older, but Abreu is staying the same age. Yes, he is. For, like, a few months, but even then, he's in a good spot. Some of the power-free teams have already noticed.

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