The A’s name Liam Hendriks their opener for the Wild Card game

Getty Images

We will remember some individual performances and moments from the 2018 season, but the thing that will likely be remembered the most from this year is the advent of the “opener” and the full-scare regular season use of bullpen games by design.

Whether that lasts as a long-standing innovation or whether it just serves to mark the era, not unlike the White Sox short pants of the 1970s or 1980s ballplayer cop mustaches is unclear, but we’ll certainly talk about it. I talked about it a bit here not too long ago. I’m sorta cranky about it, but I’ll own my crankiness.

The Rays are the team that originated the idea, but the Oakland A’s are taking it to the postseason, baby:

The quotations marks are used, of course because, before this season and the  Hendriks had not started a game since 2014. He began eight games this season, all in September, after the A’s went full-bore into bullpenning mode. He pitched one inning in seven of those, an inning and a third in the eighth.

Figure he’ll get one inning tomorrow night and that will be that.


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

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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.