After nine years in the Majors with the Chicago White Sox, José Abreu decided to undertake a new challenge by reaching an agreement with the current World Series champions.
The new contract was for three years and 58.5 million dollars with the Houston Astros, who will now have another powerful bat in their lineup. The Cuban, who was the American League Most Valuable Player in 2020, will earn $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.
He became a free agent after hitting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS last season with the pale holes. He replaces his countrymen Yuli Gurriel at first base, in a batting order that includes fellow Cuban Yordan Álvarez, as well as Venezuelan José Altuve (currently injured), Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.
At 35 years old, he is three time the All-Star Game and winner of the 2014 Rookie of the Year award in the American League. During his career he is a lifetime .292, has slugged 243 home runs, knocked in 863 runs and has an OPS of .860. As incentive the native of Cienfuegos, Cuba will receive $200,000 if he wins the Most Valuable Player award, $175,000 if he finishes second in the voting, $150,000 if he is third, $125,000 if he is fourth and $100,000 if he is fifth.
He could also get and extra $100 grand if he’s named World Series MVP and $75,000 if he wins the same award in the ALCS. There are also bonuses of $75,000 if the Cuban wins the Gold Glove or the Silver Slugger.
Coincidentally, the Houston Astros will host “Pito” Abreu’s former team at Minute Maid Park on Opening Day of the 2023 season. This spring hitting .292, with two home runs, 11 RBIs and an OPS of .907.
How have you been adapting to your new team?
“I am in a very familiar place, since day one they have always welcomed me with great respect, upper management has also been there since day one too, we are in the right place, God knows why he does things and well, I am very happy to be here.
How is the chemistry between Yordan Álvarez and yourself?
“He hasn’t played yet, but we’ve had enough practice time time here to get to know each other. I didn’t know him before I came here, but I did know that he’s a very talented hitter, with a very good heart, which is what matters most in the game. The only thing I can do on my part is help him to be a better baseball player every day and what I have in mind is to be able to share my experiences in the Majors with him. In my opinion he’s going to be one of the best Cuban hitters of all-time.”
You replace a cult figure here in form of your countryman Yuli Gurriel. Do you feel pressure to put up numbers and to take up his leadership role on this the team?
“First of all I have to let you know that we were teammates for many years on the Cuban National Team and I have the utmost respect for him, this is part of the baseball business. You are here today and tomorrow we do not know where you are, luckily I am here, unfortunately he is not , but I hope that God helps him and he latch on with a team. The pressure I believe is a part of the game and I will be up to the challenge to fill his shoes and they are big shoes to fill. I will assume the challenge above all things and I don’t have impress anyone, I only come to do what I know how to do it and that is play baseball every day, fight as we Cubans say, fight and above all enjoy the game every day, which is the most important thing.
You have a gold glove, a silver slugger and you have been the most valuable player. Do you have anything else left to prove or have any goals for the season?
“I believe that the greatest feat that I can accomplish in this world is to be a better human being every day, that is something that I try to carry out 100% every day. If can I achieve that then I am satisfied. My main goal is to stay healthy and everything else should fall into place.