With the MLB’s trade deadline coming up, the Houston Astros are likely hoping to do what they did last season. They want to pick up someone who can help them win down the stretch. Picking up Justin Verlander prior to the trade deadline last season was a genius move. He was a key piece to the puzzle last year, and he’s been a vital one in the quest to repeat this year.
Rumors have had them in the market for some bullpen help. The recent demotion of closer Ken Giles to AAA would make it seem likely they’ll try to acquire someone—which they could use. But the rumor mill has them tied to a player they could use but don’t really need.
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
Abreu is a career .295 hitter with an OPS of .866. He’s accounted for 100+ RBIs in each of his four full seasons with the team. He’s also hit 30+ home runs in three of those four seasons. With numbers like those, he would appear to be the kind of player any contending team should want to have. He could certainly give any team’s offense a boost.
But Houston should leave him in Chicago, for two reasons.
This season, his play is not matching his career numbers. He’s hitting just .253 with 14 home runs (on track for 25) and 54 RBIs through 97 games and has an OPS of .756. They aren’t terrible numbers, but they are not the kind of numbers you’d want from a guy making $31 million this season.
He’s not worth the money, but the real reason they should leave him in the Windy City is much simpler than that. They don’t need him.
If Houston were to acquire Abreu, they’d end up playing Yuli Gurriel less at first base or Abreu will take starts from Evan Gattis at DH. Gurriel is hitting much better than Abreu (.301). While Gattis has a lower batting average, he’s hit 19 home runs and has 63 RBIs so far this season.
Each of the guys Abreu would probably take time from is doing more than he is in some way. As a team, the Astros have the second most productive offense in baseball (515 runs scored; Boston is in first with 545, the Indians in third with 512, followed by the Yankees with 511).
If it isn’t broke, why try to fix it and risk doing damage?
The answer to that would be because they want to win another World Series. When you are a contender, like them, you can never have enough offensive firepower. If that is the case, they’d be better off going after someone producing at the plate this season.
Yes, he’s been a good hitter in each of the last four seasons. Maybe he’ll break out of his season-long slump. But is the possibility of that worth paying the remainder of a $31 million salary?
Fans of the Astros are hoping the front office says no.