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Houston Astros Move On From Former MVP

The Houston Astros stunned the baseball world on Friday by releasing veteran first baseman Jose Abreu. The Cuban star has struggled mightily in his second season with Houston, hitting just .124/.167/.195 (4 OPS+) with two homers.

Houston Astros Move On From Former MVP

Abreu’s performance became so bad that he accepted a minor league assignment at the end of April to work on his swing in a low-stakes environment. The Astros recalled Abreu almost a month later, and manager Joe Espada seemed encouraged by adjustments to the slugger’s swing, mechanics, and mindset.

“He looks like he’s in a much better offensive position, but also mentally,” Espada said. “That’s another area we wanted him to clear his mind and reset, and we feel he’s getting closer.”

Unfortunately, the minor league work did not produce big league-level results. In 43 plate appearances since returning, Abreu hit .167/.186/.333 with 2 homers, 10 strikeouts and one walk.

Houston Astros Release Jose Abreu

Despite a rough start to the season, Houston has repeatedly reinforced its goal of making the playoffs. With the release of Abreu, the Astros took action to support these public sentiments. The organization will eat the remainder of this season’s $19.5 million salary plus the entire $19.5 million owed to him in 2025.

The move represents an interesting turn of events for both Abreu and the Astros. In a move widely viewed as a great fit, Houston signed Abreu in free agency a few weeks after winning the 2022 World Series. Despite winning it all, the Astros had a hole at first base, and Abreu did nothing but hit and provide a great locker-room presence in his nine years with the Chicago White Sox.

Unfortunately, the signing was a bust from day one, as Abreu got off to a slow start in 2023. While he rebounded slightly, his overall numbers were still much lower than his career norms. In 141 games, he hit .237/.296/.383 with a career-low 87 OPS+. Before that year, his career-low OPS+ was 117, or production is 17 percent better than the league average.

Before signing with the Astros, Abreu spent his entire nine-year career with the White Sox. During that time, he hit .292/.354/.506 (135 OPS+) with 243 homers. His accolades include the 2020 American League MVP, 2014 AL Rookie of the Year, three All-Star nominations, and three Silver Sluggers.

What’s Next For Abreu

With a good couple of seasons in Houston, Abreu could have retired with a legitimate chance at making the Hall of Fame. But, after a disastrous season and a half with the Astros, Abreu looks closer to being washed than to being ready to have a couple more good years.

That said, Abreu will likely have a chance to sign with a team once his release is official. Teams in need of a thump in the lineup will surely express interest in the 37-year-old in hopes of finding lightning in a bottle. If he can get his act together in a new environment, Abreu could be a game-changing bat that lengthens a lineup at just a league minimum cost.

Main Photo Credits: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


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