A’s give Conor Jackson his first career start at third base

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Willing to try just about anything — well, short of calling up Jemile Weeks or Adrian Cardenas — to improve their lackluster lineup, the A’s have Conor Jackson starting at third base on Monday.

It’ll be the first career start for Jackson at the hot corner.   He has played four innings there over two games this season.   He also played there for two innings with the Diamondbacks in 2007.

Jackson was a third baseman at the University of California, so it’s not like he’s a novice.  Still, no one seemed to think he’d have the skills to play the position in the majors.  The Diamondbacks moved him to the outfield quickly after drafting him and later stuck him at first base.

With a .255/.333/.347 line in 98 at-bats, it’s not as though Jackson has really forced his way into the lineup with his bat.  He has outproduced the Athletics’ other options at third, though.  Kevin Kouzmanoff went hitless in his last three starts, dropping him back down to .198/.238/.333 in 111 at-bats, and Andy LaRoche is hitting .219/.288/.288 in 73 at-bats.

If there was ever a time for the A’s to experiment, now is it.  They’ve been held to nine runs while losing their last five games.

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.