This past week, long-time Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu signed with the Houston Astros in free agency, leaving the Windy City after nine years with the team. The 2020 AL MVP leaves as one of the greatest White Sox ever, and his leadership and presence will surely be missed on the South Side. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer, and by that, I mean the reigning World Series champion Astros. They are getting yet another player that can come in and have an impact right away, despite his age.
Abreu slashed .304/.378/.446 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs last season, which is very impressive for a 35-year-old. Most hitters tend to fall off around this age, but he still put up those respectable numbers. Since 2014, Abreu leads first basemen in RBIs (863) and is second in home runs (243). The three-time all-star will undoubtedly help Houston in its quest to go back-to-back.
However, it really doesn't move the needle very much when it comes to the betting odds. Abreu is good, certainly, but it takes quite a lot to move a line in the betting markets. Houston remains the favorite, tied with the LA Dodgers to win the 2023 World Series at +550, which is no shock. In order for them to overtake the Dodgers, they will need to make a significant move, such as signing a younger star or trading for one. Whoever lands Aaron Judge is going to see some crazy line movement.
Still, that doesn't mean that Abreu won't be a key contributor in 2023. In fact, if you look at some of the more advanced stats, he actually had a career-low chase rate. That means that he was swinging less than ever on pitches that were out of the zone. He also got on base even more often than in his 2020 MVP campaign, with a .378 OBP. Houston will want him to play DH instead of first base, as his defensive skills at the position never were spectacular, but have become even more troublesome going into his age 36 season.
I fully expect Abreu to have another great year, possibly one of his better years, with the Astros in 2023.