Pirates sign Justin Masterson to a minor league contract

AP Photo/Ben Margot

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the Pirates and pitcher Justin Masterson have agreed to a minor league contract. Presumably, Masterson will report to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Masterson, 31, struggled mightily over the last two seasons. He compiled a 5.88 ERA with the Indians and Cardinals in 2014, and a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox last year. He’s always been inconsistent, but the Pirates are hoping to set him back on the right path.

Masterson won’t be privy to major league pitching coach Ray Searage, but perhaps Searage’s magic touch can be transferred over a phone or Skype call.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, 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 is scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.