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Astros Viewed As A “Frontrunner” For Jose Abreu


Besides a few coaching changes, it’s been a quiet offseason for the Astros roster rebuild. Yesterday, we got the first bit of news regarding an Astros possible acquisition. From Buster Olney (ESPN);

 

Earlier in October, Jim Crane told reporters that he’s willing to raise the payroll and we (fans) could expect a payroll at around $50-60 million. Bringing in Jose Abreu would be one way to raise the payroll. The 27-year old (once baseball season starts) is easily the best 1B on the market and has the potential to be a 30+ HR hitter. According to several reports, Abreu could command a 4-6 year deal around $50-$70 million. This is the first report that the Astros have been connected to Abreu. Other teams that have reported interested over the last few months include the White Sox, Marlins, Mets, Pirates, Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, and the Giants (this list courtesy of Astros County).

 

The Pros 

Ben Badler (Baseball America)

Abreu is an intelligent hitter without a lot of effort in in his swing and the power to hit 30-plus homers in a season. He has an unorthodox setup with a double toe tap in his stride, and some scouts consider his bat speed only fair, which they believe makes it hard for him to catch up to good velocity on the inner third of the plate.

Jonah Keri (Grantland)

“Is he Barry Bonds? No,” Forst said. “If you do a comprehensive survey of the clubs, they’d say he is not the best hitter on the planet.”

But? “There are legitimate comparisons to Ryan Howard.”

So the wildly optimistic view is that it’s possible — not likely, but possible — that Abreu might be as good at — or better at — than Miguel Cabrera. And the more realistic and pervasive view is that he could hit like Ryan Howard, a star first baseman entering year one of a five-year, $125 million contract who has launched 262 homers over the past six seasons.

Which is, in a word, stupefying.

Jerry Crasnick (ESPN)

“He has monstrous power,” said a scout who began following Abreu at the 2009 IBAF World Cup. One talent evaluator said Abreu could step into a big league lineup tomorrow and hit .260 with 25 home runs. That’s not far from what Cespedes is doing in Oakland this season.

 

The Cons

Ben Badler (Baseball America)

He has an unorthodox setup with a double toe tap in his stride, and some scouts consider his bat speed only fair, which they believe makes it hard for him to catch up to good velocity on the inner third of the plate.

Jonah Keri (Grantland)

Oakland and other teams agree that Abreu isn’t nearly the all-around athlete that someone like Cespedes is. He’s a first baseman at best and maybe a DH if and when he makes the big leagues. He doesn’t run well. His body is not exactly chiseled. His stats have been inflated somewhat by intentional walks (a league-leading 32 in 2009-10, and 21 last season) and hit-by-pitches (30 in 2009-10, 21 last season, though Abreu might have an easier time sustaining high HBP numbers than league-leading intentional walk totals in the majors). Even Abreu’s hit tool, while playable, might not be superstar-level.

Jerry Crasnick (ESPN)

  • Another expressed concern that Abreu looks “confused” against breaking balls and thought he could benefit from a little seasoning in the upper minors.
  • Multiple scouts used the term “slider-speed bat” in reference to Abreu. Translation: He might be challenged against pitchers who can crowd him with fastballs on the inner half of the plate.

 

The scouting reports tend to favor Abreu in many ways though the concerns are there. Some think he may be the next Ryan Howard or he may be more of a Edgar Martinez/Dayan Vicedo type player.

Abreu will easily be the best first baseman on the market this offseason which should push his price a bit higher. Mike Napoli is the next best first baseman and signing him would cost a team a draft pick. Signing Abreu would not cost a team a draft pick and he will be just 27 when the season starts.

If I’m the Astros I shell out the money to sign Abreu. The Astros are still in the rebuilding stage but they are good enough now to sign guys like Abreu. Abreu should still be able to hit 30+ HR once the Astros become competitive again. The Astros do have the best 1B prospect in baseball, Jonathan Singleton, but that shouldn’t stop the team from signing Abreu. If both pan out the Astros have plenty of options with two including the DH spot as help. Having assets can only help a team still looking to find talent in other areas and it’s certainly possible the Astros can entertain a deal for Singleton if they sign Abreu.

We should hear Abreu news sometime later in the offseason but signing Abreu should be a priority for the Astros.

Note: I encourage you to click the links for A LOT more information on Abreu. You can also check out this recent piece by Tim Dierkes (MLB Trade Rumors) as well as an article from  Greg Thurston (Climbing Tal’s Hill).

 

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