Yesterday, Astros and first baseman Jose Abreu He agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, but a surprising club seemed close to Houston in bids for Abreu’s services. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer Reports indicate that the Guardians made a three-year offer, but the $60 million range was “out of their reach”.
The Guardians are usually one of the lowest spending clubs in the league, so the fact that they didn’t sign an expensive free agent isn’t exactly shocking. However, this could be an indication that they have a greater desire to spend this off-season than they usually do. The largest free agent contract in franchise history is $60 million over three years Edwin Encarnacion Prior to the 2017 season, coincidentally very similar to the deal Abreu just signed. He gave guardians Jose Ramirez $129 million over seven years, though that was a stretch rather than a free agent deal.
Although many fans will remain skeptical of “at least we tried” reports of teams just missing out on free agents, there are reasons to believe the Guards may actually have some money to work with this winter. The club ran out of a roster full of debutants and other young players in 2022, and it has worked tremendously. They went 92-70 and finished atop the American League Central despite very modest salaries. list resource He currently pegs their 2023 spending at around $72 million, with no individual player poised to earn more than the $14 million Ramirez will receive. $9 million of that figure is Shortstop’s expected arbitration salary Amed Rosario, a name that is often mentioned in business rumors. That $72 million figure is already a slight upgrade from last year’s opening day figure of $68 million for each Cradle baseball contractsbut they reached $135 million in 2018.
Now that the club is cleared of a few years of lost revenue to the pandemic and just got a boost from a surprise postseason run, it’s likely they’re willing to push spending back near pre-pandemic levels. It would also make sense from an on-field perspective to build around their pool of young, talented players while still being paid at refereeing or pre-ARB levels.
If there is some money to be spent, the first baseman/designated hitter on the list is a reasonable place to put it. The club has Josh Naylor He pencils in the first baseman but Franmel Reyes He was fired as the designated hitter in 2022 and eventually placed on waivers, going up to the Cubs. There would have been an opportunity for Abreu to step in and split first base and assigned hitter duties with Naylor. It would also make sense to add some extra dazzle to a lineup that has succeeded in 2022 largely through contact and strike avoidance. The club hit 127 home runs this year, which is 29th in the majors, ahead of only the Tigers. Abreu’s power has actually waned in 2022, but he still hits 15 home runs and was a lot of 30 homers in the past.
If the Guardians are still willing to pursue this market, there are other options available to them. There are some part time or role players available as Trey Mancini or Yuli Gurelbut the higher option is Josh Bell. on me Top 50 MLBTRHe was expected to receive a contract worth $64 million over four years. This warranty exceeds what Abreu got, but with an average annual value of less than $16 million. Since Bell is only 30 years old compared to Abreu, who is 36, it’s likely he’ll need a longer commitment, but that lower salary might fit Cleveland’s checkbook better. Like Abreu, he will add some dazzling to the line-up, having hit 17 last year and rising to 37 in previous seasons. He’s also unlikely to pull off the club’s low strikeout style either, since he’s never posted an average above 19.2% outside of the abbreviated 2020 season. For context, the league average for the year was 22.4% and the Guardians achieved a collegiate clip of 18.2%.
The Guardians will certainly have competition in chasing down Bill or any other key player they decide to catch up with. The Padres, Cubs, and Marlins have all been reported to be interested in Abreu and will likely start considering the next options on their roster. Another team on that list is the Red Sox, eg John Heyman from the New York Post Reports indicate that Abreu was the free agent’s biggest target and they met him once free agency began.
The Red Sox already have a messy mix of players for their first base and assigned hitting points. Young Triston Casas And the Bobby Dalbeck On the 40-man list along with the veteran Eric Hosmer, was optioned in a deadline agreement with the Padres last year. However, there is no real reason to stick with Hosmer privately, as the Padres have agreed to pay him off all but the league minimum of his remaining contract. Since joining the Padres prior to 2018, he has primarily been a replacement player, producing a WRC+100 and 0.3 fWAR. As for Dalbec, he showed some potential in 2020 and 2021 but struggled dramatically in 2022, hitting just 0.215/.283/.369 for a WRC+80 while hitting 33.4% in his appearances.
We can’t know for sure what subsequent moves the Red Sox would have made if they had signed Abreu, but it appears they could have been looking to trade Hosmer or simply released him if he had used Non-trade clause to prevent a deal. Dalbec also could have found himself on the trading block, but he also had options and could have been kept as a minor league depth had Casas, who has just 27 MLB games under his belt, struggled in 2023. He’s struck out five homers In that short sampler he walked a handful but didn’t hit much on average, which led to a lopsided hitting streak of .197/.358/.408.
The first primary market was very strong in the early days of the holiday, such as Anthony Rizzo Already re-signed with the Yankees, the Pirates were traded Ji Man Choi And the Carlos Santanafollowed by Abreu signing with the Astros. With so many teams still seemingly interested in upgrading their rosters at the start, the remaining free agents may see their phones light up pretty soon.
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