Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, MLB Free Agency, New York Mets

MLB Hot Stove: Astros lineup with Jose Abreu, Cubs backup plan, Jacob deGrom rumors

Jose Abreu rumors, Astros, White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 28: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Minnesota Twins on September 28, 2022 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. MLB news, Astros, Cubs (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Free agency is well under way, with the Astros signing Jose Abreu on Monday. That wasn’t the only news, though. What of the Cubs? And where will Jacob deGrom sign? All that and more in the roundup.

The MLB news is just beginning.

Jose Abreu is coming off one of his best offensive seasons, and at age 36, wanted one last chance at a multiyear contract. This led him to leave the Chicago White Sox — the only team he’d ever known — and sign with the World Series champion Houston Astros.

As Fangraphs points out, Abreu finished last season with a 137 wRC+, and he fits rather seamlessly into the Houston lineup given they’re missing the likes of Yuli Gurriel, Trey Mancini and more.

“With Michael Brantley reaching free agency along with Gurriel and Mancini, they had an offensive void to fill. That’s not exactly how baseball works – they could simply accept worse offense, or count on improvement from incumbents to make up any shortfall. But in practice, it made sense for them to replace like with like, and in that particular sense, getting a pile of offense out of a single hitter is just what the doctor ordered,” wrote Ben Clemens.

MLB news: Houston Astros lineup with Jose Abreu in it

Despite Abreu’s offensive production — he slashed .304/.378/.446 last season — ESPN’s Buster Olney has him hitting sixth in Houston’s projected lineup, and starting at first base.

Abreu will fill in nicely for Yuli Gurriel, who struggled at times last season and drew the ire of Houston baseball fans in what was otherwise a very successful campaign. As if the Astros could make their World Series team even better, they have theoretically done just that.

But what’s next? Houston fired general manager James Click rather unceremoniously, and their three-year, $60 million contract given to Abreu strikes this writer as one negotiated without much cache. Still, it worked, and it made the Astros better. Next up has to be the starting rotation, as Justin Verlander is a free agent.

The 2022 AL Cy Young winner is 39 years old, but wants another high AAV, short-term contract, likely near what Max Scherzer is earning with the New York Mets.

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