Cardinals remove interim tag from Mike Shildt, agree to three-year extension

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The Cardinals announced that the interim tag has been removed from Mike Shildt and the two sides have agreed to a three-year contract extension.

Shildt, 50, took over for Mike Matheny in mid-July. The club was hovering around .500 and Matheny reportedly wasn’t getting along well with some players, including Dexter Fowler. Since the change, the Cardinals have gone 26-12, reinserting themselves into the playoff picture. The Cardinals enter Tuesday 4.5 games behind the first-place Cubs in the NL Central and currently hold the first of two NL Wild Card slots along with the Brewers. August has been the Cardinals’ strongest month, winning 19 of 24 games. That includes an eight-game winning streak from August 7-15.

While it’s undeniable that the Cardinals have played better baseball under Shildt, it is interesting to see one of the more analytically-oriented organizations make a big decision based on a sample size of 38 games. August’s schedule has included games against teams treading water like the Pirates and Nationals and bottom-feeders like the Marlins and Royals. The upcoming schedule is even more of a cakewalk, with the club opening up a homestand with the Pirates and Reds, followed by a road trip to face the Nationals and Tigers, and rounded out with three more games against the Pirates. The Cardinals will also face the Dodgers again along with the Braves, Brewers, and Cubs, but the majority of their second half schedule has been relatively easy.

Waiting until the offseason to make a decision about the manager position would’ve given them a slightly larger sample size to work with and the opportunity to consider other candidates. But considering how long the Cardinals stuck with Matheny when it clearly wasn’t working, this decision isn’t all that surprising.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

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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.