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Jose Abreu extends his on-base streak to 29 games

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Someone should tell Jose Abreu the White Sox are out of the pennant race this season.

The 29-year-old has transformed his OBP in the last month after reaching base safely in the last 29 consecutive games he’s started. On Friday, with Twins’ right-hander Kyle Gibson on the mound, Abreu rocked a line drive into center field during his first at-bat of the night and now sits just one game away from establishing a new franchise record:

It’s a positive turn for the Sox’ first baseman, who found himself mired in a hitting slump during the first half of 2016 and was staring at a .262/.325/.413 batting line heading into August. Notwithstanding his current on-base streak, FanGraphs still puts him at a career-worst mark of 0.8 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), well below the 5.3 fWAR he carried in 2014.

Abreu credits White Sox assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks for getting him back on track this season, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times.

Once he told me that we created a routine to take advantage of my hands. And the results have been there. He saw something, he told me and we started working on it on a daily basis. That’s been the key for me.

Will his adjustments at the plate be enough to dig the White Sox out of fourth place in the AL Central? Unlikely. But Abreu’s hitting like there’s no tomorrow, and no matter where his team ends up this season, that’s something to celebrate.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.