Astros steal high-profile free-agent DH from Red Sox in first major offseason signing
Days after the Red Sox were named a ‘top contender‘ for free-agent slugger Jose Abreu, they’ll have to add ‘Find pitchers who can get him out’ to their offseason to-do list, instead.
On Monday afternoon, Bob Nightengale broke the news that the Houston Astros are finalizing a three-year deal with Abreu. Ken Rosenthal confirmed the report minutes later, with Chandler Rome adding that the contract with worth ‘around’ $60M.
Red Sox lose free-agent slugger José Abreu to Astros
It’s a huge coup for the Astros, who were already reigning World Series champions before adding the formidable hitter to their lineup. Over the first nine years of his big-league career (all with the Chicago White Sox), Abreu hit .292/.354/.506 over 1,270 regular-season games and averaged 31 home runs and 39 doubles per 162 games. In his debut season in 2014, he led MLB in slugging percentage and OPS+, was an All-Star, finished fourth in American League MVP voting, and won Rookie of the Year and his first of three Silver Slugger awards. He won AL MVP in 2020 when he led the league in games, hits, and slugging percentage and led all of MLB in RBI and total bases.
In Abreu, the Astros get a first baseman/DH who’s consistently healthy every season; only once in 162-game years has he played less than 145 games. 2022 was his age-35 season, and while Abreu showed some signs of slowing down – he hit a career-low 15 home runs – he still slashed .304/.378/.446 with 183 hits, including 40 doubles, in 157 games. He also displayed impressive plate discipline, only striking out 16.2% of the time, a new career-best by a significant margin and well below league average. For his efforts, he was a Silver Slugger finalist.
With Abreu off the table, extending Rafael Devers becomes even more imperative for the Sox. He was the only Sox hitter to exceed 16 home runs in 2022 (he hit 27), and the roster currently has even less power than it did during the campaign. JD Martinez is a free agent and unlikely to return to Boston after a disappointing season, and Xander Bogaerts’ future is terrifyingly unclear now that the Sox let him reach the open market. A three-year contract for a hitter turning 36 in January would’ve been a gamble and $20M per season an overpay, but it’s not like the free-agent pool is overflowing with options.
In recent years, the Sox have gotten a reputation for expressing interest in everyone and signing almost no one of note. They can add Abreu to the list of missed opportunities.