When the Houston Astros signed Jose Abreu to a three year deal before the start of the 2023 season, the hope was that he would be able to provide a consistent power threat in the heart of the Astros' lineup. To do so, Houston had to pass up the potential opportunity to sign Justin Turner who had a not dissimilar profile to Abreu that offseason.
Both guys were heading into their late 30's with questionable (at best) ability to play in the field. Both have had strong track records of hitting in the past and both would, in theory, be able to drive in some runs for what was already a loaded Astros lineup.
So why exactly did the Astros go with Abreu over Turner especially in the wake of Turner's reported deal to sign with the Blue Jays for just $13 million this season?
The Astros' decision to overpay Jose Abreu looks a lot worse after Justin Turner's deal
On the Astros' end, the decision calculus was probably pretty simple: Abreu's power potential was too much for them to pass up. While a look at wRC+ shows that Turner and Abreu were pretty similar in terms of total offensive production over the last few years, Houston probably coveted the 30+ homer potential that Abreu did have. Combine that with Abreu being a couple years younger and the fact that Turner had some not nice things to say about the Astros during the sign stealing scandal and you arrive at something resembling logic.
The problem is that the Astros are paying Abreu A LOT more than they should have especially when you factor in what Turner is making. JT signed a two year deal with Boston that he was able to opt out of after one year and took home just $9.3 million last year. He just agreed with the Blue Jays to make $13 million in 2024. On the flip side, Abreu is making $19.5 million a year over three years. Turner has remained a constantly above average hitter while Jose Abreu's contract looks really rough after a terrible 2023 season marred by injuries that could prove to be chronic.
It is certainly possible that Houston did consider Turner and he just didn't want to sign with them. Again, he was not pleased with how the league handled the Astros' punishments and there may have been some lingering hurt feelings. Still, you have to wonder how much better things could have been if they had landed him instead of Abreu and how much more financial flexibility Houston would have had this offseason in that world.