USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Keys to victory
Offset Abreu: Mainstay José Abreu ended his nine-year run in Chicago by signing as a free agent with Houston. The departure of the third leading home run hitter (243) in franchise history behind Frank Thomas (448) and Paul Konerko (432) means Andrew Vaughn takes over at first base. Vaughn , 24, led the White Sox with 17 home runs and 76 RBI in 2022 and hit 28 doubles with a.271/.321/.429 slash line. If he lives up to the promise that made him the third overall draft pick in 2019, Vaughn might one day add his name among
the franchise’s best slugging first basemen.
A reliable Robert: CF Luis Robert Jr. has yet to play a full season in three years in the majors, was limited to 98 games in 2022 as he dealt with COVID-19, blurred vision and a jammed wrist. The 25-year-old has shown flashes of his enormous potential (.338 in 275 atbats in 2021). “He’s an MVP candidate,” manager Pedro Grifol said. Robert should be helped in the outfield by the addition of free agent LF Andrew Benintendi, a 2021 AL Gold Glover. Benintendi allows
Eloy Jiménez to move to DH full time.
Case closed? Kendall Graveman appears in line to open this season as the closer with Liam Hendriks being treated for nonHodgkin lymphoma. Hendriks has saved 75 games over the past two seasons, including a career-high and AL leading 38 in 2021. Graveman saved 10 games with the Mariners in 2021 and six for the White Sox last season. Joe Kelly, Reynaldo López, Aaron Bummer and Jake Diekman also are candidates for high-leverage roles.