Astros will sign free agent Jose Abreu’s first goal on a three-year deal

The Houston Astros are in the process of finalizing a deal for free agent first baseman Jose Abreu for three years and approximately $50 million, confirms Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ.

Abreu, 35, is a three-time All-Star who won three Silver Sluggers, a Rookie of the Year award and the 2020 AL MVP. Last season, he appeared in 157 games with the White socks, hitting .304/.378/.446 (133 OPS+) with 40 doubles, 15 home runs, 75 RBIs, 85 runs and 4.2 WARs. The drop in power may be concerning, but Abreu hit 30 homers in 2021 and here’s what RJ Anderson wrote in his 50 best free agents (Abreu registering at number 17):

Abreu is getting older (he’ll be 36 before spring training), but he’s still punching. More than half of his batted balls last season had an exit speed of 95 mph or more; here is a complete list of skilled hitters who have done better in this area: Judge Aaron, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Schwarber, and Teoscar Hernandez. Its maximum exit speed, meanwhile, was in line with ratings posted by the likes of Juan Soto and Lars Notable. The market tends to be nasty with right-to-right former first basemen, but Abreu, whose bat packs more pop than The 1975’s discography, may be an exception.

The Astros, of course, won the 2022 World Series, but first base was a bit of an offensive hole for them. Yuli Gurriel held the position again and hit very well in the playoffs, but during the regular season the Astros first basemen only hit .236 / .285 / .371, so Abreu is a big improvement.

There might be concerns about Abreu’s age, but 35 isn’t really that old when it comes to a first baseman with Abreu’s skill set. Considering the batting average, outing speed readings and contact skills, there’s every reason to believe he’ll continue to be an above-average hitter for many more years to come.

Speaking of those contact skills, only 30 of the other 129 qualified hitters last season had a lower hitting percentage than Abreu. Among regular first basemen, only Josh Bell, France, Freddie Freeman and Gurriel were harder to take down.

Even better news for the Astros is that there is a natural spot in the middle of their command for Abreu, between left-handed hitters Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. If the 3-4-5 goes Alvarez-Abreu-Tucker, which I bet, that means Jose Altuve starts with Alex Bregman and Jeremy Peña filling in the two and six holes respectively. It’s as good as a 1-6 you’ll find in baseball.

For the White Sox, this ended Abreu’s career with them. He finished his career with the White Sox with an average of .292 and 134 OPS+. He had 1,445 hits, 303 doubles, 243 home runs, 863 RBIs, 697 runs and 31.9 WAR. 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 drafted third overall in 2019. In terms of replacing Abreu’s production, they could level up in the corners of the outfield (or DH, if Eloy Jiménez moves to left field).

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