The Chicago Cubs have lost out on one of their primary targets this offseason as free agent first baseman Jose Abreu is reportedly finalizing a deal with the Houston Astros.
The move is a disappointing start for the Cubs' offseason as Abreu was believed to be one of their primary targets in the early part of the offseason. After the failed Frank Scwindel experiment in 2022, the Cubs were looking for increased productivity out of the first base position this offseason, and Abreu would have been an ideal candidate.
The Cubs have a first base prospect in waiting with the emergence of Matt Mervis. Mervis is expected to have an opportunity at making the Major League roster out of Spring Training but it is important to remember that 2023 will only mark his third year of professional baseball. It would be foolish for the Cubs to enter 2023 with Mervis firmly entrenched as the team's starting first baseman. Adding a free agent like Abreu would have allowed the Cubs to ease Mervis into the Major League lifestyle.
The belief was that the Cubs were interested in Abreu on a two-year deal with a high AAV. It's possible the Cubs were outbid by the Astros given the contract details that Nightengale reported.
It seems unlikely that the Cubs would have been willing to go to a third-year on a potential deal with Abreu. Nevertheless, the first domino has fallen for the Cubs' offseason plans and it is disappointing. Signing a player like Abreu would have signaled that the Cubs are intent on contending in 2023 and, more importantly, signaled to other free agents such as Carlos Correa that the team is serious abot returning to contention.
Missing out on Abreu also heightens the importance of the Cubs' pursuit of one of the top four free-agent shortstops. The Cubs need to add multiple bats to their lineup this offseason in order to improve offensive production. Abreu along with one of the shortstops would have been the upgrade that the team needed offensively. If the Cubs miss on one of the shortstops, then their path to offensive improvement in 2023 will be difficult to find.