More Houston Astros rumors have begun to swirl today involving the Chicago Cubs, with Ken Rosenthal reporting on former Cubs' beloved first baseman, Anthony Rizzo being a priority for the defending World Series champions. In essence, this move should be no surprise to Cubs as Rizzo probably wasn't returning to the Cubs, and he would fill a great need for the Astros.
For the Cubs, what this means is a first baseman off the market which still does leave them options of Jose Abreu, Josh Bell, or Trey Mancini. Yuli Gurriel is also on the market but has yet to be connected to the Cubs this offseason. Two of the names that were mentioned are former Astros which clearly puts the team in the market for a first baseman such as Rizzo. I also wouldn't be surprised to see both the Cubs and Astros linked to Josh Bell in the coming days as well. Primarily, however, the Cubs have made it known that Jose Abreu is one of their top priority targets this winter.
With more rumors of Rizzo circulating to teams other than the Cubs, it recements the Cubs motivation to move in a different direction, if that wasn't already apparent. In terms of Abreu, it's even more reason to believe the Cubs have their sights set on him. The Cubs may have to flex their financial muscles a little to get him, but at a presumed two-year deal, the front office has the ability to do that.
The latest Houston Astros rumor helps the Chicago Cubs with their offseason approach.
There is always a chance that Abreu goes back to Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago White Sox to see if they would match any offer from the Cubs, but the more I think about it, if the White Sox really wanted him, I believe they would have already extended him or at least been in talks with their former slugger. In fact, it's already speculated that the White Sox chances of bringing him back are zero. Obviously, Abreu more than likely doesn't want to uproot his family if he doesn't have to. This should be a huge sticking point and adds to why the Cubs remain in the front running to acquire his services.
Abreu has always mashed in Wrigley Field. As much as the Cubs miss Rizzo, Abreu fills a need but also doesn't block one of their emerging prospects in first baseman Matt Mervis. With Mervis on his way to the show, platooning him with another left-handed bat in Rizzo is essentially pointless. Abreu on the other hand, with a career slash of .309/.367/.642 at Wrigley in 90 plate appearances, along with a career .305/.376/.548 and 150 wRC+ against southpaw pitching seems like he will do just fine. Even if he doesn't blast 40 home runs a year, he is still an RBI machine who averages 110 driven per 162 game average over the course of his career. Hopefully, the Cubs get bullish on Abreu and land him. Thus, showing other free agents they are serious about competing.