More Chicago Cubs-Jose Abreu heat today, as Bruce Levine got back into it on 670 The Score, explaining where things stand.
Levine explained that Abreu is the Cubs’ “number one priority” this offseason, though it was unclear if he meant that the Cubs want him more than any other player on the market, or if he is their priority to get done first. Feels a bit more like the latter, especially knowing that a lot of other guys might not sign until much later in the offseason; but clearly, according to Levine, Abreu is a prime target for the Cubs, and meetings on other first basemen like Trey Mancini and Josh Bell are simply about trying to have other options in place just in case.
Speaking to that just-in-case, Levine described Abreu’s market as “strong but small,” with maybe four teams involved: the Cubs, the Astros, the Red Sox, and the Marlins. Although the Cubs are prioritizing Abreu, it’s not yet clear if he’s prioritizing them back. “It won’t be a slam dunk that the Cubs get Abreu. It’s not like they’re signing him tomorrow.”
Let me put that last point another way, and from another angle.
We have to be a little careful about going too far with expectations that the Chicago Cubs *WILL* land first baseman Jose Abreu in free agency just because we keep hearing his name, and about how the Cubs are trying aggressively to land him. I mean, that’s just good advice generally when it comes to rumors, but in this case I am referring to the fact that – for now – the rumors are all coming from one source, Levine.
That isn’t to say Bruce Levine is not reliable – given the overlap between the Cubs and White Sox on this rumor, I think he’s probably got some really good sources – it’s just that the strength of a rumor is beefed up considerably when multiple reporters are hearing something similar. In this case, Levine is hearing a wholllle lot on just how serious the Cubs are about Abreu, but we haven’t yet seen any other reporters on it in quite the same way. So, at least some caution is advised.
Trying to parse what’s out there: It seems very likely that the Cubs dig Abreu for first base, and there is probably some level of reciprocated interest. Based on Levine’s reporting, it seems like the source(s) could be close to Abreu, who must be hearing a lot about the Cubs’ interest (maybe even that person – say, someone in an official, representative capacity – hearing directly from the Cubs about what a priority Abreu is for them). Perhaps there’s a little bit of an effort going on to make sure Abreu doesn’t just sign the first thing the Cubs offer him, trying to underscore that there are at least three other interested teams.
In any case, Abreu certainly makes sense for the Cubs in a number of ways, and I do hope this happens. Early, preferably. But I’ll try to temper my expectations, especially with Tuesday’s rostering deadline coming, and then the non-tender deadline so soon thereafter. It’s not hard to imagine one of those four interested teams waiting to max out an offer on Abreu until they know a little bit more about the coming landscape, and maybe that’s enough to force Abreu to wait.
As an aside, I saw a great exchange that addresses a question I often see about why the Cubs would even want to go after an older hitter like Jose Abreu. It’s really just a simple answer:
He’s just a good guy to have available for your lineup. A good hitter. Simple enough.
Would you like a younger guy? Sure. Would you like more homers? Yup. But there’s a lot that Abreu brings – and how he fits with the rest of what the Cubs are trying to do – that is worth the trade-off.