MLB 2022 | Astros are also showing interest in Cuban first baseman José Abreu
Major League Baseball (MLB) Cuban Players News for the 2022 offseason. A compendium from several MLB sources
Free agent Jose Abreu is probably leaving the Chicago White Sox following nine years.
The 35-year-old Cuban first baseman is looking for a contract that can secure the last years of his career.
In the fall of 2019, José Abreu signed the White Sox’s $17.8 million qualifying offer before completing a three-year, $50 million contract, later that year. Now with no contract in hand, he is officially in the open market.
Now, and according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the infielder is of interest to the Houston Astros. It comes after the team missed out on their top target, New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
There are other teams pursuing the same goal as the Astros, however. Abreu is also considered the Padres' "top priority," according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, and the Marlins, Cubs, and Red Sox seem to be in the conversation too.
The White Sox are still to decide if he will return. It seems that the team is ready to give Andrew Vaughn total responsibility at first base. If this happened, Abreu will wear a different uniform in 2023.
For many, Abreu is the best and most consistent Cuban player of his generation. Since 2014, when the native of Cienfuegos, Cuba made his MLB debut, he ranks first among first baseman in RBIs (863), second in home runs (243), and fourth in average (.292). His average exit velocity still ranked in the 93rd percentile, and his .292 XBA ranked in the top two percent of the league. What about his defense? Considering the OAA or Outs Above Average, Abreu was #9 between 36 first baseman in 2022, according to Baseball Savant.
What he has to offer? A lot after a productive 2022 season. When Abreu won the 2020 American League MVP Award, he went back to being...well just Abreu. In 2021 he hit 30 home runs and was second in RBI to Salvador Pérez. What about 2022? Just review the numbers below:
2022: .304/.378/.446 (133 OPS+), 15 HR, 4.2 WAR in 157 games
One of the real values of Abreu is that he is a very consistent run producer. Despite his 2018 injury that negatively impacted his numbers - 22 HR, 78 RBI - , he has always hit for a high average and driven in plenty of runs, and 2022 was no different.
Even when his 15 HR were the lowest of his career - including the 2020 shorted season - Abreu put 75 RBI on the board for Chicago, a team that had a lot of managerial issues during a turbulent season. There is value in the consistency that Abreu brings to the table, and that will be tested to see how much teams offer him during the offseason.
Because of his age, Abreu represents a high quality player that would not require a long term deal, he is also no eligible for a qualifying offer. The most realistic scenario? Abreu signs a two-year deal worth around $40 million. The team? No idea, only time will tell.