Now that Thanksgiving is over, the free agency signings are now starting to pick up. The Houston Astros over the past few months have been rumored to be after a number of first basemen, but it now appears that defending World Series champions have shored up that position with the addition of Jose Abreu.
Houston Signs Jose Abreu
Per multiple reports, the Houston Astros have reportedly come to a three-year deal to sign former White Sox and AL MVP Jose Abreu. Houston was originally reported to be interested in Anthony Rizzo, who re-signed with the Yankees a few weeks back.
A Look at Abreu’s Stats
On the surface, there’s very little not to like about Abreu. Abreu’s 2022 numbers were strong yet again, as Abreu yielded a .378 OBP and .824 OPS through 679 plate appearances. Both of those figures were above-average, and the 35-year old’s analytics were strong to boot. The former White Sox ranked in the 97th percentile in Hard Hit%, the 96th percentile in xwOBA, and boasted above average K% and BB% rates.
Since the start of the shortened 2020 season, Abreu has been a model of consistency. Over that time, Jose Abreu has accrued the sixth-highest amount of plate appearances (1,618) among all MLB players, while also maintaining the 12th-highest OBP (.367) among players with min. 1000 PA. It’s also worth mentioning that Abreu had 151 extra-base hits in that span, a figure that puts him in the top 20 among all hitters since 2020. Put that kind of production with an already powerful Astros lineup, and 2023 could look a lot like a repeat of Houston’s dominant 2022 season.
In terms of drawbacks, there aren’t many for the Astros for this deal. Houston maintains some long-term financial flexibility by passing on Josh Bell, while also upgrading significantly at first base. Now, will Abreu regress? There’s a good chance that Abreu’s hard-hit numbers may dip over the next three seasons, but he does possess a disciplined approach can that lead to plenty of walks and ease those concerns.
Houston is not done by any means, as the Astros will almost assuredly attempt to retain AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and possibly add another piece or two. It will be interesting, though, to see if the Astros look to make another big splash for the lineup. If not, though, this is still quite the potent lineup in Houston.