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Source: Sox land Cuban slugger

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Koji Sasahara)
Cuba's first baseman Jose Abreu, center, celebrates after winning over China in the World Baseball Classic first round game in Fukuoka, Japan, Sunday, March 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

CHICAGO – Cuban slugger Jose Abreu has agreed to a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

The person spoke Friday on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced and was pending a physical. Several media outlets earlier had reported the agreement.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Abreu could play first base or serve as the designated hitter. He batted .360 (9 for 25) with three home runs and nine RBIs in the World Baseball Classic in the spring, and he defected over the summer.

Abreu joins a team that went 63-99 after finishing second in the AL Central. The Sox believe they can turn things around quickly because of their pitching, but defense and hitting were huge problems for them this past season.

They ranked 29th in fielding percentage, and they didn’t get the job done at the plate, either.

A lack of speed and a drop in power added up to the Sox scoring the fewest runs in the AL. They batted only .249 and saw their home run total plummet to 148 after they ranked third in the majors with 211 the previous year.

With Adam Dunn signed through next season and Abreu in the mix, there might not be room for Paul Konerko. At 37 and with an expiring contract, he might have played his last season with the Sox – or any other team.

The six-time All-Star is coming off one of his worst seasons and said at the end of the year that he would take a month to decide if he’ll try to play next season. He wasn’t sure if the Sox even wanted him back after he hit .244 with only 12 homers and 54 RBIs while dealing with a back problem.

If this does signal the end with the Sox, it’s been quite a run.

Acquired from Cincinnati after the 1998 season, Konerko helped lead the Sox to a championship in 2005. He ranks second on the Sox’s list to Frank Thomas in homers and RBIs.

Notes: The Sox outrighted left-handed pitcher David Purcey to Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. He was 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA over 24 relief appearances with the Sox. The Sox’s 40-man roster is at 36.

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