It looks like the White Sox have added the impact hitter they so desperately need.
On Thursday night, multiple national media outlets, headed by MLB.com, reported the Sox and power-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu have agreed on a six-year, $68 million contract, pending a physical.
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The Red Sox, Rangers and Astros also were rumored to be close on the 26-year-old Abreu, who defected from Cuba in August and established residency in Haiti. In September, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder was cleared to sign a major-league contract.
On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Abreu was on display during an open showcase in the Dominican Republic. White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams was in attendance and obviously liked what he saw.
Abreu hit .360 (9-for-25) with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in six games with Cuba during last year's World Baseball Classic. Playing in Cuba in 2010-11, the right-handed hitter batted .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI in 66 games.
How he adapts to the major-league game remains to be seen, but Abreu drew raves from Cuban-born White Sox players Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez in September. Viciedo played against Abreu in Cuba.
"He's got a really good bat," Viciedo said through a translator. "He can hit, I remember that. I know he's a good player, but more than anything I remember he has a good bat."
After finishing last in the American League with 598 runs scored this season and firing hitting coach Jeff Manto, the Sox need a really good bat, so look for Abreu to step right into the middle of the lineup.
Also, look for Paul Konerko in a new uniform next season, assuming the Sox' longtime captain decides to play one more year.
While Konerko did express an interest in returning to the White Sox for a final season in a part-time role, he can only play first base and serve as designated hitter.
Abreu is in the same boat, as is Adam Dunn, who still has one year left on his contract. In order to bring Konerko back, the Sox most likely would have to trade Dunn, who is owed $15 million next season.
General manager Rick Hahn was able to clear enough payroll to sign Abreu by trading Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in July and Alex Rios to the Rangers in August. Boston and Texas picked up a combined $37 million of the $38 million the duo was owed in salary.