When the Houston Astros signed Jose Abreu to a three year deal before the 2023, the hope was that he would provide a strong presence in the middle of their lineup. During his nine seasons with the White Sox, he averaged 27 homers a season and a .292/.354/.507 slash line including winning AL MVP in 2020. That kind of offensive production is hard to come by and it looked like Houston had made a strong move in signing him.
However, Abreu played all of last season at 36 years old and all of that mileage on his body caught up with him as he dealt with back issues off and on all season long and ultimately put up the worst season of his professional career by a mile. He did look better in the postseason to be sure, but it is hard to ignore a guy posting a .680 OPS in 2023 when he was averaging well north of .800 before.
Well, the news with Abreu doesn't seem to be getting any better as a recent report from Chandler Rome seems to indicate that we could see Abreu getting more games off in 2024 and beyond to rest his body and keep him healthy.
Jose Abreu's deal might have been a mistake from the beginning
Look, a guy getting hurt is just an unfortunate thing that happens sometimes. Sure, there are the guys that break a hand or foot from hitting something in frustration that deserve our scorn and ridicule, but baseball has long seasons and that takes a toll on players' bodies especially over a number of seasons. It isn't like Abreu asked for his back to give out on him and the guy pushed to play every day despite the pain he was in.
That said, it isn't like Houston couldn't see something going awry with signing Abreu. The guy was always going to be 36 years old from the start of his deal and his 2022 power production with Chicago had dropped off considerably from when he was at the height of his powers. While the Astros did keep his deal at a manageable length at three years, paying an older player $19.5 million a year and hoping that nothing goes wrong is asking for trouble.
Could this arrangement where Abreu takes say 20-30 games off next season work out? Absolutely. When he is right, the guy can still mash as he showed during the playoffs last year. However, he isn't getting any younger and is clearly still dealing with some back issues given how the team is already talking about managing his playing time. Houston just has to hope that his body will hold out a bit longer if they want to get their money's worth.