Royals announce Luke Hochevar and his 5.60 career ERA as Opening Day starter

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Kansas City announced its rotation and as expected Luke Hochevar will get the Opening Day start against the Angels despite a 5.60 career ERA that includes a 4.81 mark in 18 outings last year.

Of course, the Royals being the Royals they don’t really have any clearly better options.

Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, and Bruce Chen will follow Hochevar in the rotation and Vin Mazzaro has won the final spot, but he’ll begin the season at Triple-A because the Royals won’t need a fifth starter for a couple weeks.

If healthy Francis is a pretty good bet to emerge as the Royals’ best starter this season, but that isn’t really saying much. Starting a guy with a 5.60 ERA on Opening Day and it not being a particularly crazy decision is a big part of why the Royals are very capable of losing 95-plus games for a fourth straight season. Their lineup has a chance to be pretty decent, but the pitching staff is going to be ugly.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.