José Abreu, Potential Red Sox Target, Reportedly Signing Elsewhere

Abreu is joining the Astros after nine seasons with the White Sox

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November 28, 2022

The Boston Red Sox have one less option to fill their designated hitter vacancy, as longtime Chicago White Sox star José Abreu reportedly is signing with the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball free agency.

USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale was the first to report Monday that Abreu was finalizing a deal with the Astros. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal subsequently confirmed, via a source, that Houston was in agreement with the three-time All-Star.

It’s expected to be a three-year contract, according to Nightengale. The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome added the deal is expected to be worth around $60 million (about a $20 million average annual value).

Abreu, the American League MVP in 2020, presumably will play first base for the Astros, with Yuli Gurriel a free agent this offseason. That represents a major upgrade for Houston’s lineup, as Gurriel is coming off a shaky season at age 38 while Abreu had another strong campaign at age 35.

Abreu, who turns 36 in January, batted .304 with a .378 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage across 679 plate appearances in 2022. He launched a career-low 15 home runs, while racking up a relatively modest 75 RBIs, but Abreu’s Statcast numbers remained quite strong, suggesting he still has plenty left in the tank. Abreu ranked in the 98th percentile in expected batting average (xBA), the 97th percentile in hard-hit rate, the 93rd percentile in average exit velocity and the 92nd percentile in expected slugging percentage (xSLG).

The Red Sox don’t have a clear opening at first base, with top prospect Triston Casas arriving on scene down the stretch last season and Eric Hosmer still in the mix after a midseason trade from the San Diego Padres. But they have a hole at DH, with J.D. Martinez hitting the open market after a down year relative to his usual high-level production.

Abreu, who spent nine seasons with the White Sox, would’ve been an excellent addition for Boston as a strong source of right-handed power. Now, the Red Sox will have to consider other options with MLB free agency in full swing ahead of next week’s winter meetings.

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Former Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck
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