What’s Next for the Astros at First Base?

The Astros surprisingly released Jose Abreu on Friday. We look at what the next move should be for them to replace him.

Jose Abreu released
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 07: Jose Abreu #79 of the Houston Astros walks off the field after an at-bat during a game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on May 7, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won 3-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Playing out the second year of a three-year deal with the Houston Astros, Jose Abreu has seen himself go from one of the AL’s top offensive contributors to one of the worst hitters in the game.

Mired in yet another down year, the Astros have already optioned him to the minor leagues and brought him back up after a month-long break. On Friday, the experiment was officially brought to an end when the club announced they had released Abreu.

This has been quite the disappointing development for both player and club. We’re talking about a player who has won the AL Rookie of the Year, made three All-Star Games and even won an MVP Award back in 2020.

When the Astros brought him aboard prior to last season, he was an MVP-caliber player in each of the past eight years before. It seemed that they were landing him on a bargain contract that would benefit them for every minute of his time on their roster.

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Instead, it was a disaster. He combined to hit just .217 in 176 games for the Astros prior to his release. His .625 OPS and 74 OPS+ were both well-below average marks and he barely looked to be a competent big league player.

With the Abreu headache behind them, where do the Astros turn at first base now? There are a multitude of different paths for them to take, including internal ones, waiver claims and trade candidates alike.

Let’s dive in.

Where do the Astros Go At First Base After Abreu Release?

Internal Route

The first path to consider is the most obvious one: they should just promote Joey Loperfido and hand him the starting gig at first base. However, there’s a caveat.

Loperfido was only just recently sent back down to Triple-A, meaning he can’t be officially recalled unless he’s replacing a player heading to the injured list. Without an obvious candidate in mind to go down with an injury, he’s going to have to wait until at least June 21 to receive that call.

If Houston wants to keep things internal, there are plenty of players on the active roster that can line up at the position until Loperfido is ready. Each of Mauricio Dubon (who homered off of Tarik Skubal on Friday night), Jon Singleton, Cooper Hummel and the club’s three catchers have experience there.

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Singleton, 32, has made his triumphant return to the organization with which he originally rose to prominence as a prospect way back in the day. He’s appeared in 50 games so far this year and has five home runs with a rather uninspiring .649 OPS and 89 OPS+. He’s not a star-caliber player, but he can hit a baseball to the next town over when he gets into one.

Bottom line: the Astros have one of the worst offensive stat lines in the game out of their first basemen. Sticking with bats who have yet to break through is not going to get them back into contention any sooner.

External Route

Alternatively, there are a ton of different external options out there should the Astros prefer them (and they should). Leading the charge is the recently-released Harold Ramirez, who was somewhat surprisingly sent packing from the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this week.

Ramirez, 29, has been an excellent contact hitter throughout his career, but he really saw his numbers explode in 2022 and 2023. He hit .300 or higher in both years and had an OPS+ north of 100 for the first time in his career. However, he’s regressed this year to the tune of a .589 OPS and 72 OPS+. He’s striking out more than he typically does and has seen his walk rate drop by a whopping 4%.

On the surface, it’s a bit difficult to see why the Astros would want Ramirez, but he’s available for dirt cheap and could be a prime change-of-scenery candidate. If the Astros are looking to make a potential upgrade for as cheap as possible, this is the way to go.


The most intriguing route for the Astros to go, though, would be to turn their attention to the trade market. Pete Alonso immediately jumps to mind as a corner infield bat that should be firmly on the radar.

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In a recent piece penned by Jim Bowden of The Athletic, the Astros were mentioned as an ideal landing spot for Alonso. The six-year veteran is “expected to be the biggest power bat traded at the deadline”, per Bowden. Since he’d be purely a rental, he can be had for less in a deal than the likes of Isaac Paredes, who offers a similar skillset than Alonso but has 3.5 years of control remaining.

Alonso has seen an uptick in batting average this year and continues to mash the ball. He remains in the 91st percentile in Bat Speed and 87th Barrel % and remains at or near the top of NL first base rankings in most categories.

On the Astros, Alonso’s prolific power bat would fit nicely alongside the likes of Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. The team simply has too much talent to continue to play sub-.500 ball.