MLB Rumors

Guardians Made Three-Year Offer To Jose Abreu

White Sox Appear Likely To Move On From Jose Abreu

Yesterday, the Astros and first baseman Jose Abreu agreed to a three-year, $58.5MM contract, but it seems a surprising club was close to Houston in the bidding for Abreu’s services. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Guardians made a three-year offer, but that the $60MM range was “beyond their reach.”

The Guardians are usually one of the lowest-spending clubs in the league, so the fact that they didn’t sign a costly free agent isn’t exactly shocking. However, it could perhaps be an indication that they have a greater willingness to spend this offseason than usual. The largest free agent contract in the history of the franchise is the $60MM over three years given to Edwin Encarnacion prior to the 2017 season, coincidentally very similar to the deal Abreu just signed. The Guardians did give José Ramírez $129MM over seven years, though that was an extension and not a free agent deal.

Though many fans will remain skeptical of “at least we tried” reports of teams just missing on free agents, there are reasons to think the Guards might actually have some money to work with this winter. The club ran out a roster full of rookies and other young players in 2022, and it worked tremendously. They went 92-70 and finished atop the American League Central despite a very modest payroll. Roster Resource currently pegs their 2023 spending around $72MM, with no individual player set to earn more than the $14MM Ramírez will get. $9MM of that number is the projected arbitration salary of shortstop Amed Rosario, a name frequently mentioned in trade rumors. That $72MM figure is already a slight upgrade over last year’s Opening Day figure of $68MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, but they got as high as $135MM in 2018.

Now that the club is a few years removed from the lost revenues of the pandemic and just got a boost from a surprise postseason run, it’s possible that they are willing to push spending back up near their pre-pandemic levels. It would also make sense from an on-field perspective to build around their bevy of young and talented players while they are still paid at arbitration or pre-arb levels.

If there is some money to be spent, the first base/designated hitter part of the roster is a sensible place to put it. The club has Josh Naylor penciled in as their first baseman but Franmil Reyes flamed out as the designated hitter in 2022 and eventually got put on waivers, going to the Cubs. There would have been an opening…

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