Slugger Abreu joins champion Astros on three-year $58.5m deal

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The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros have struck quickly to fill one of their few glaring needs after agreeing to a reported three-year contract with 2020 American League MVP Jose Abreu.

Abreu, who had spent his entire nine-year major league career with the Chicago White Sox, will earn $19.5 million per season, according to Houston television station KRIV.

The 35-year-old first baseman was named the AL’s top player during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign after batting .317 with 19 home runs and an MLB-leading 60 RBIs in 60 games that season.

Though his home run total dipped from 30 in 2021 to 15 this past season, Abreu finished fifth in the AL in both batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.378) after drawing a career-high 62 walks. Abreu also recorded the lowest strikeout rate of his MLB career at 16.2 per cent in 2022.

Abreu’s addition makes it unlikely the team will re-sign incumbent first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who struggled to a .242 average and a .647 OPS this past season and turned 38 in June.

It is the second notable signing the Astros have made this offseason after retaining reliever Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million contract earlier this month.

Houston still hopes to bring back its most prominent free agent in 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the three-year, $130 million contract the Mets gave Max Scherzer last offseason.