'A lot of great things can happen here' Former AL MVP José Abreu officially introduced as an Astro

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Welcome to the H! Astros officially introduce slugger José Abreu
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It looks like José Abreu is already winning over the clubhouse! "José pulled out his phone last night and had the phone numbers of the entire team," Crane said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- From Chi-town to H-town, another star has landed in the Bayou City as the Astros look to load up on their already talented roster and chase another World Series title.

On Tuesday morning, the Astros officially introduced now-former Chicago White Sox player José Abreu, 35, as their new first baseman.

"Being a part of this ballpark and this family is something that I am so much looking forward to, and I think that a lot of great things can happen here," Abreu told reporters through a translator.

Abreu was one of the biggest free agent names on the market, but will now call Houston home after the World Series champions officially announced Monday night that they are signing him.

Astros owner Jim Crane said that Abreu was a top target for the team because his play speaks for itself.

"He's been a consistent player for a number of years, and you know, you throw his bat in the lineup and his statistics, he's going to put some pop in the line up and that's why we were attracted to him," said Crane, who called him a "first rate" guy.

Crane also said that Abreu, who has been described in the past as a leader, will be a great fit in the Astros' clubhouse.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported on Monday that the team and the free agent Abreu agreed on a three-year contract. It's believed he signed for a reported $58 million.

USA Today first reported Abreu's agreement with the Astros.

Abreu, who turns 36 in January, spent all nine of his MLB seasons with the White Sox. He represents a big-name bat that could help the Astros, who were 12th in batting average and 13th in hits in all of baseball last season.

Abreu was in the MLB's top eight in batting average at .304 and fourth overall in hits with 183.

The three-time All-Star was the American League MVP after he batted .317 with 19 home runs, 60 RBI, 148 total bases and a .987 OPS during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Also in that season, he played in all 60 of the White Sox's games.

He led the AL in hits, RBI, slugging percentage and total bases. In seven career postseason games, Abreu has hit .321 (9x28) with a home run and five RBI (.871 OPS).

Abreu appears to be replacing Astros' fan favorite 38-year-old Yuli Gurriel, who, like his potential successor, is a free agent and a Cuban defector.

The addition not only puts former AL MVPs at first and second base. Besides Abreu and Jose Altuve, the other infielders - shortstop Jeremy Pena and third baseman Alex Bregman - have won the World Series and All-Star Game MVP awards, respectively.

What does Abreu's signing mean for owner Jim Crane's offseason ambitions?

As far as what the financials may look like, the White Sox extended Abreu for three years and $50 million, or an annual average value of about $16 million, after 2019.

The Astros reupped reliever Rafael Montero on a three-year, $34.5 million contract. The Astros' projected payroll is currently in the $175 million range - they've exceeded $187 million each of the previous five seasons - and they still hope to sign ace Justin Verlander, who could command upward of $40 million a year.

It's also still unknown if veteran pitcher and three-time Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander will be back with the team after he became a free agent following the Astros' second World Series win.

When asked on Tuesday, Crane said that Verlander was still in the mix. But the Astros have a front office hole to fill, too.

After parting ways with general manager James Click earlier in November, Crane said that fans shouldn't expect to hear anything until January as they continue to go through candidates.

As for the other spots on Crane's mind?

"We have to look at the catching and maybe another outfielder, and you can never have enough pitching," Crane said, adding that those positions were fairly obvious.

As for Abreu's ability to fit in with his new squad, it appears he already does.

"José pulled out his phone last night and had the phone numbers of the entire team so I guess he knows some of the guys," Crane said.

José is the second Abreu on the Astros' roster, which has reliever Bryan Abreu already in the bullpen. There are no published reports indicating the two are related.

ESPN contributed to this story.