Red Sox

Some options for the Red Sox after missing out on ‘No. 1 outside target’ José Abreu

Who might Boston look for now that Abreu is off the table?

Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two run double in the eighth inning at Comerica Park on September 16, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Former White Sox first baseman José Abreu agreed to a three-year, $58 million deal with the Astros on Monday, dealing a blow to the Red Sox’ offseason aspirations.

According to the New York Post’s Jon Heyman, Abreu was “Boston’s No. 1 outside target,” and the Red Sox had met with the 2020 AL MVP “as soon as free agency started.”

Abreu, 35, would have helped to fill Boston’s need for a hard-hitting right-handed hitter while not breaking the bank. He slashed .304/.378/.446 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI in 157 games last season. Despite his home run total being down significantly compared to past years, Abreu had a career-low strikeout rate (16.2 percent) and the 14th-highest average exit velocity (92.2 mph) in MLB.

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Abreu had long been on the organization’s radar – the club made an offer to him when he left Cuba to join MLB in 2013, though they were eventually outbid by the White Sox.

He would have provided Boston with a consistent right-handed bat at first base, something it glaringly lacked last year. Additionally, with the possibility of righties J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts both departing in free agency, Abreu’s skillset from the right side of the plate could have been much needed for the Red Sox.

Now that Abreu is off the table, Boston will need to set its sights elsewhere. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier compiled a list of free agents with similar traits to Abreu that the Red Sox could look toward to DH or play a corner position in 2023.

Mitch Haniger could be a possibility to play a corner outfield position or DH for Boston now that Abreu is unavailable, according to Speier. Though he has missed significant time due to injury over the past few seasons, the Mariners outfielder has proven to be a quality bat. He hit .253 with 39 home runs and 100 RBI in 157 games in 2021, and was an All-Star in 2018.

A more direct fit in place of Abreu, as Speier notes, could be first baseman Josh Bell. The 29-year old broke into the big leagues with Pittsburgh, where he drilled 37 home runs and had 116 RBI in 2019. He was traded from the Nationals to the Padres in 2022, and while his power numbers dropped compared to previous seasons, he slashed a solid .266/.362/.422 with 17 home runs and 71 RBI in 156 contests.

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Speier’s full article can be read here.

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