Jason Heyward gets benched on 22nd birthday

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Even though the Braves are facing a right-hander in the Marlins’ Clay Hensley tonight, Jason Heyward is riding the pine in favor of the Braves’ newest sparkplug, Jose Constanza.  It’s the second straight day on the bench for the 2010 All-Star, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday.  He’s sitting even though he homered and walked in three plate appearances Sunday.

Constanza, a modern day Bo Hart, is 16-for-38 since debuting on July 29.  He even homered Sunday against the Mets.  He has two homers in 371 at-bats between Triple-A and the majors this season, matching his high total in seven seasons as a pro.

As much of a disappointment as Heyward has been this season, he’s still hitting .244/.339/.440 against right-handed pitchers.  It’s hard to blame the Braves for wanting to keep Constanza in there when he’s on fire, but there’s a good argument for using Heyward over Martin Prado against a righty.  Prado is hitting .265/.300/.412 versus right-handers, and the Braves are better defensively with Constanza in left and Heyward in right than with Prado in left and Constanza in right.

But Prado, even though he’s struggled moreso than Heyward since coming off the DL, is the established player and Heyward is still young and proving himself, at least in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s eyes.  We’ll see how it plays out for the Braves, who have won four out of five games after a shaky start to the second half.

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.