Astros to sign free agent first baseman José Abreu on three-year deal


The Houston Astros are in the process of finalizing a three-year deal for first baseman Jose Abreu, a free agent, confirms Jim Bowden of CBS Sports Headquarters. The deal is expected to pay $19.5 million annually, or $58.5 million overall. Fox 26.

Abreu, 35, is a three-time All-Star, having won three silver sluggers, the Rookie of the Year award and the 2020 AL MVP. He appeared in 157 games with the White Sox last season, hitting .304/.378/.446 (133 OPS+) with 40 doubles, 15 homers, 75 RBIs, 85 runs and 4.2 WARs. The drop in strength may be worrisome, but Abreu hit 30 home runs in 2021, and here’s what R.J. Anderson wrote in his Top 50 Free Agents (with Abreu registering at number 17):

Abreu is aging (he’ll be 36 before spring training) but he keeps hitting. More than half of the balls he hit last season had an exit speed of 95 mph or faster; Here’s the full list of the top hitters in this area: Aaron Judge, Jordan Alvarez, Kyle Schwarber and Theoscar Hernandez. In the meantime, his top exit speed matched the marks given by the likes of Juan Soto and Lars Nootbaar. The market tends to be unkind to older right first basemen, but Abreu, whose bat contains more pop music than The 1975’s discography, may be an exception.

The Astros certainly won the 2022 World Series, but first base was something of an offensive hole for them. Julius Gurriel held the position again and made the playoffs very well, but the Astros first basemen hit .236/.285/.371 in the regular season, so Abreu is a big upgrade.

There may be concerns about Abreu’s age, but 35 is actually not that old when it comes to first baseman with Abreu’s skill set. With average batting, exit speed and contact skills, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be hitting above average for a few more years.

Speaking of those contact skills, only 30 of 129 other qualified hitters last season had a lower strikeout percentage than Abreu. Among regular first basemen, only Josh Bell, Ty France, Freddie Freeman, and Gurriel found it harder to score.

Even better news for the Astros is that there is a natural spot for Abreu in the middle of their formation, positioned between left sluggers Jordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. If Alvarez-Abreu-Tucker plays 3-4-5, which I’m betting on, that means José Altuve is in the lead and Alex Bregman and Jeremy Peña fill two and six holes respectively. It’s as good as 1-6 in baseball.

As for the White Sox, it ended Abreu’s career. He retires with the White Sox with a .292 batting average and 134 OPS+. He totaled 1,445 hits, 303 doubles, 243 home runs, 863 RBIs, 697 runs, and 31.9 WARs. In White Sox history, Abreu ranks sixth in career doubles, third in home runs, fifth in RBI, 10th in runs, 10th in hits, and seventh in total bases.

Without Abreu, the White Sox will turn to Andrew Vaughn at first base, his natural position when he was selected third overall in 2019. to the left margin).