MLB draft picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino

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No. 2 – Minnesota Twins – high school OF Byron Buxton

The Astros pulled off a surprise pick and left Mark Appel on the board, but the Twins stuck with the guy most expected them to take. Buxton, 18, is a pure center fielder with a big-time arm — he just had an 18-strikeout game as a pitcher — but he’s a raw hitter with a long swing that needs some shortening up. Again, there’s an awful lot of upside here, and his defense could make him a major leaguer even if he doesn’t hit as much as hoped. Still, he’s not going to move quickly.

No. 3 – Seattle Mariners – Florida catcher Mike Zunino

The Mariners obviously aren’t sold on Jesus Montero as a long-term catcher. Zunino has a very good glove and will definitely stay behind the plate. His bat probably won’t be good enough t make him a star, though he was the best power hitter on the top-ranked Gators this season, batting .318/.388/.667 with 18 homers in 231 at-bats. He could contribute as soon as 2014.

No. 4 – Baltimore Orioles – LSU RHP Kevin Gausman

The Orioles apparently thought Gausman, not Appel, was the top college pitcher on the board. They wanted someone who was going to be ready quickly, and Gausman doesn’t lack for polish. The 21-year-old was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and a 128/27 K/BB ratio in 115 2/3 innings for LSU this season. He probably won’t start games for the Orioles this season, but if the team remains in the race, he’d be an intriguing relief option down the stretch.

No. 5 – Kansas City Royals – San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer

The Royals also bypassed Appel. Zimmer has the better fastball, touching 97 mph at times, and with his plus curve, he probably possesses superior upside to the Stanford right-hander. How quickly he moves will depend on the progress he makes with his changeup. He’s definitely not as far along with his third pitch as either Appel or Gausman.

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall                              .

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

Picks 21-31: Blue Jays add potential 2012 callup Stroman

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.