NEW YORK– The championship gold remains shining and glistening. Less than a month removed from capturing their second World Series title in franchise history, the Houston Astros made a free agency splash, signing José Abreu to a three-year-deal, totaling up to $58.5 million. The 2020 American League LatinoMVP recipient, and three-time All-Star, of Cienfuegos, Cuba attempts to complete his career resume with the ultimate pinnacle, a World Series championship.
“I just want to be part of a great family,” said Abreu through a team translator earlier this week during an introductory press conference. “In the last six years, the Astros have created a great culture, a great family here and I want to be part of that. And most importantly, I want to win.”
Abreu, 35, who turns 36 in January, heads to Houston with plenty left in the tank, coming off a 2022 season, posting a .304/.378/.446 slash line over the course of 157 games. Though currently, in the second half of his career, the right-handed slugger proves year-in and year-out to be one of the most durable players across MLB, missing a total of 18 games since 2019. To go further on his productivity, in the last four seasons (2019-2022), he’s combined for a .288 batting average with 97 home runs, 375 RBI, and 177 walks.
“Well, I mean, the numbers speak for themselves,” said Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane about Abreu being their main priority this offseason. “He’s been a consistent player for a number of years. You throw his bat in the lineup and his statistics… he’s going to put some pop in the lineup. That’s why we were attracted to him, plus he’s a first-rate guy.”
Speaking of pop in the Astros lineup, Abreu joins an offensive juggernaut of Yordan Álvarez, Alex Bregman, Jeremy Peña, and José Altuve. A well-polished core, who each hit over a .253 batting average this past regular season with a minimum of 22 home runs.
With Houston ecstatic about signing a talent of Abreu’s stature, the former White Sox first baseman/designated hitter departs Chicago as a perennial fan-favorite. In nine seasons of calling Guaranteed Rate Field his home ballpark, Abreu ranks 3rd in White Sox franchise history for Home Runs (243), 5th in RBI (863), 6th in Doubles (303), and 10th in Hits (1,445).
“I think my biggest takeaway from my experience with the White Sox is that I tried to give my respect to everybody that was there,” Abreu said. “My teammates, owner, everybody that was in the organization. I think that was the biggest thing that my grandfather taught me. Just respect everyone as equal.”
Ironically enough, the Astros are slated to open up the 2023 regular season on March 30th in Houston, Texas against the White Sox.
Dating back to 2014, Abreu is quite familiar with the Astros home ballpark and the dimensions it has to offer, batting .202 (19-100) at Minute Maid Park in his career with two HR, nine RBI, seven doubles and four walks. When it comes to field dimensions, Minute Maid Park’s left-field foul pole ranges out to approximately 315 feet. The spans from left center to center-field? 366-399 feet.
A proving point as to why Houston made such an aggressive move in signing Abreu, who is known to hit across all of the playing diamond, but most especially to left and left-center field. Provided below is a spray chart of Abreu’s home runs throughout his career.
Following his introductory press conference this past Tuesday afternoon, Abreu was given a warm welcome in the third base dugout by a group of third graders from Anahuac, Texas. He approached each student, shaking their hands, introducing himself, and the expressions on their faces were priceless.
Jose Abreu is already making lifelong fans in Houston! The new Astros first baseman saw these kids and introduced himself 🤝
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 29, 2022
A beautiful beginning to more than likely the final landing spot for Abreu in his splendid career, and most importantly, a heartwarming acclamation to a community of young Astros fans.
“Being a part of this ballpark, and being a part of this family is something I’m so much looking forward to,” said Abreu. “I think a lot of great things have happened here.”
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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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