The Guardians missing out on Jose Abreu in 2022 seems to have worked out in the end

The Guardians were once in the mix to sign Jose Abreu but instead ended up in Houston and put up lackluster offensive numbers with a very high salary.
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / David Berding/GettyImages

The year was 2022, and the Cleveland Guardians were looking to boost their offensive production by way of signing away a slugging first baseman from a division rival. Former Chicago White Sox first baseman hit the free agent market and was a rather hot commodity. The Guardians were very much interested in his services, even offering a three-year deal to Abreu, but it was Houston that won out in the end, signing him to a three-year deal worth $58.5 million. Now, less than two seasons in Houston, Abreu is being released with more than $30 million owed to him by the Astros. 

This development is hardly a surprise, Abreu has pretty much fallen off a cliff in Houston and even spent some time in the minors earlier this year in an attempt to fix his offensive decline. Abreu has been a below-average player with the Astros, seeing his slash line decrease from .304/.378.446 with a 134 OPS+ during his last season in Chicago to .217/.275/.351 and 74 OPS+ in 176 games as an Astro. It is pretty safe to say that Houston was dissatisfied with his production, with his release on Friday being clear evidence of that.

It is not that anyone should have been caught off guard by the ways things played out in Houston, Abreu signed the multi-year deal entering his age 36 season after all. While plenty of athletes have defied the impact of aging across multiple sports, not everyone is capable of fending off Father Time, and Abreu would be comes up short in that department.

Even though the Astros are experiencing some difficulties this season and being on the hook for the remainder of Abreu's salary is far from ideal, they should be able to absorb the loss and recover from it. This is not something that would be as doable in Cleveland if the Guardians were able to convince Abreu to sign with his former AL Central divisional rival. Signing Abreu to anything remotely close to what Houston offered, reports suggest their offer was more than Cleveland could afford, it would have ruined them. Having to carry that much money owed to a player performing as poorly as Abreu has would not be a sustainable situation that would result in the success the team is currently experiencing.

Sure, the Guardians made two major free agent whiffs in Josh Bell and Mike Zunino, but they both had shorter deals and moved off both players last year. They have since been able to refresh their roster to the group they have now, which would look a lot different right now if Abreu had been persuaded to come to Cleveland. There is a very good chance the Guardians do not get Kyle Manzardo from Tampa Bay in exchange for Aaron Civale last year. It should also be mentioned that there is a very good possibility that one or more talented players on team-friendly contracts may have needed to be moved to make up for the financial drain of Abreu's contract.

Sports can be funny every now and then, sometimes it is the team that initially comes up short that ends up on top at the end.