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Red Sox Rumors: José Abreu Was 'No. 1 Outside Target' in FA Before Astros Contract

Adam WellsNovember 29, 2022

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 15: Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) singles to right to drive in a run during the ninth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians on September 15, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox missed out on their top choice in free agency when José Abreu chose to sign with the Houston Astros.

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post and MLB Network, the 2020 American League MVP was Boston's "No. 1 outside target" and the team met with him as soon as free agency opened on Nov. 10.

The Astros announced Monday they signed Abreu to a three-year contract. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle added the deal is expected to be worth around $60 million.

Abreu is also believed to have thought highly of the Red Sox when the free-agent process began.

Bruce Levine of 670 The Score (h/t Adam London of NESN) reported on Nov. 15 that Boston was "high on the list" of potential landing spots for Abreu. The Astros, Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins were also mentioned.

It's unclear what Boston's plan is this offseason coming off a 78-84 record and last-place finish in the AL East in 2022.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal noted Red Sox ownership has indicated "a strong willingness" to spend. Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy recently told Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe they made an offer to Xander Bogaerts and have engaged in extension talks with Rafael Devers.

If the Red Sox had been avoiding spending in free agency recently to avoid the luxury tax, that shouldn't be a problem this offseason. Their payroll is currently $64.5 million, down from $225.7 million last season.

Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, their two highest-paid players in 2022, are both free agents. They made a combined $39.35 million.

Abreu would have been a natural replacement for Martinez at designated hitter, though he's also capable of playing first base. The 35-year-old hit .304/.378/.446 with 15 homers, 40 doubles and 75 RBI in 157 games with the Chicago White Sox last season.

Boston's designated hitters collectively hit .264/.331/.432 with 19 homers and 70 RBI.

Offense wasn't the problem in Boston last season. The team ranked in the top 10 in MLB in batting average (.258), on-base percentage (.321), slugging percentage (.409) and runs scored (735).

Re-signing Bogaerts would go a long way toward helping Boston stay at that level in 2023. The front office needs to find pitching to make the team a playoff contender. The pitching staff had the sixth-worst ERA in the league (4.53) and Nick Pivetta was the only starter who threw more than 130 innings.