Braves’ Tyler Matzek has Tommy John surgery, out 12-18 months

Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA — Braves reliever Tyler Matzek had Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined for 12 to 18 months.

Manager Brian Snitker said the 31-year-old left-hander went to Texas to be evaluated and learned that he had a torn elbow ligament. Atlanta left Matzek off the postseason roster because of elbow discomfort.

“I hate it for him,” Snitker said before Game 2 of the NLDS against Philadelphia. “He struggled with things all year. Maybe this is the reason, and I think him going ahead and starting the process, I think he feels pretty good about that. Now he can go through his rehab and on the back end of that he’s still a young man and can have a really good career.”

Matzek, who spent time in May and June on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, went 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA this season, striking out 36 in 43 2/3 innings. He was a vital part of the postseason bullpen last year when the Braves won the World Series, appearing in each of Atlanta’s first eight games. That tied the major league record held by Jesse Orosco, Wade Davis and Greg Holland for consecutive outings to open a postseason.

Matzek struck out 11 batters with runners in scoring position, tied with Atlanta’s John Rocker in 1999 for the most by a reliever in a single postseason. One of Matzek’s best moments came with runners on second and third and a two-run lead in the seventh inning of the decisive Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. He struck out Albert Pujols, Steven Souza Jr. and Mookie Betts to get out of the jam.

Before 2020, Matzek had not pitched in the majors since 2015 with Colorado.

The Rockies drafted him 11th overall in 2009. He went 8-12 with a 4.09 ERA in two seasons with Colorado before getting a case of the yips and struggling to find the strike zone. He was out of baseball in 2017 and pitched in the independent American Association in 2018 before spending the next year pitching across three levels of the minor leagues.

Matzek is 8-9 with a 2.92 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 135 2/3 innings in three seasons with Atlanta.

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.