Cubs add John Lackey to rotation with two-year, $32 million contract

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Last offseason Theo Epstein lured Jon Lester from Boston to Chicago with a huge long-term deal and now he’s signed another of his former Red Sox starters, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Cubs have agreed to a two-year deal with right-hander John Lackey.

According to Rosenthal the two-year contract is worth $32 million, allowing the Cubs to avoid making a commitment beyond 2017 to a 37-year-old pitcher. Lackey turned down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals, who now receive a first-round draft pick as compensation for losing him to their NL Central rivals.

Lackey is coming off a fantastic season for St. Louis in which he logged 218 innings with a 2.77 ERA and 175/53 K/BB ratio. It was by far his best season since his prime with the Angels a decade ago, but combined from 2013-2015 he started 93 games with a 3.35 ERA and 500/140 K/BB ratio in 605 innings.

Chicago being in the market for rotation help beyond Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and Lester is no surprise, but being able to add a playoff-caliber starter in Lackey without a huge long-term commitment has to be considered a win for Epstein and the front office.

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.