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Three First Base Options for the Astros After Abreu Cut

The Houston Astros tried. José Abreu tried. It just didn’t work out. The Astros decided to move on from first baseman José Abreu after getting off to one of their worst starts in years. Who takes over first base now? Here are three options for the Astros at first base.

Three First Base Options for the Astros After Releasing José Abreu

Option 1: Fill First Base Internally

The Astros’ current plan at first base post-Abreu is a platoon of utility player Mauricio Dubón and left-hander Jon Singleton. Dubón responded by hitting a two-run homer in his first game at first base following Abreu’s release. For the Astros, getting Dubón into the lineup more is a great option. He’s off to a good start at the dish with a .302 batting average and 1.0 WAR.

The left-handed hitting Singleton will likely get the majority of starts against righties with Dubón shifting to another part of the field. This will be an immediate improvement over José Abreu’s .124/.167/.195 slash line this year. The only hitch in this option is that Dubón has only eight career games at first base and Singleton isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball this year. However, when Singleton does get a hold of the baseball he can do things like this:

The Astros are hoping Singleton can continue to hit upper tank shots and that Dubón can provide consistent hits. If both players can deliver on these expectations, the Astros won’t need to look for help at first base at the trade deadline. However, there is another option available to the Astros if they feel the Dubón/Singleton platoon is not producing enough.

Option 2: Try the Young Guys at First Base

The Astros already called up one of their top prospects in Joey Loperfido, and in limited action he hit well, slashing .333/.381/.817 with a 136 OPS+. However, due to the money committed to José Abreu and the fact that Jon Singleton is out of options, Loperfido only saw time in the outfield before being optioned back to the minors. Loperfido continues to play first base and center field in Triple-A Sugar Land and he continues to hit well. If he keeps up his current pace, the Astros would be smart to give him a look as the full-time first baseman.

In the meantime, the Astros have called up Cooper Hummel, likely to fill a backup role on the team while they weigh their options. If the current internal options don’t pan out, look for Loperfido to be an exciting plan B for the Astros. Finding a first baseman of the future would help ease the pain of having $30 million in dead money over the next year and a half. However, if none of these options work out, we get to the worst-case scenario for the Astros, an option in which there are already a few rumors.

Option 3: Find a First Baseman at the Trade Deadline

This is the least favorable option for the Astros, as they are already committing a lot of money to the first base position over the next year and a half. Additionally, they don’t have the prospect capital they once did to swing a trade for a big bat. How willing are the Astros to part with the prospects they do have for a player who may only be with them for a few months? That is the question.

Some industry insiders believe the Astros could swing a trade for Pete Alonso, Paul Goldschmidt, or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. While all three hitters would certainly be a great addition to the team, only Guerrero Jr. has a higher WAR than current internal option Mauricio Dubón. If some combination of Dubón/Singleton/Loperfido proves to be even average, the Astros may want to hold onto their prospects. Or they could consider upgrading elsewhere on their roster, perhaps starting with their starting rotation that has been decimated by injuries.

While relying on internal options wouldn’t be as big of a splash as seeing Pete Alonso in an Astros uniform, it may be the wiser option both for the short and long term. Of course, there’s always a fourth option. Maybe the Astros should see if their mascot, Orbit, has any other hidden talents. With the production the Astros have had at first base this season, it couldn’t hurt to check.

 

Photo Credit: © Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

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