Once the centerpiece of one of the first trades during the rebuild, a certain Astros first base prospect now faces an uncertain future with the franchise.
Jon Singleton, one of the components of the Hunter Pence trade, has experienced an up-and-down roller coaster as a member of the Astros. He has went from being a top prospect to signing a controversial five-year, $10 million contract to now being removed from the 40-man roster altogether.
The Singleton arc for the Astros has been an interesting one to say the least. Once a top prospect in the Houston system, he has been playing in Triple-A for the majority of the past two seasons. In fact, he only has appeared in only 114 major league games. And in those games he has slashed just .171/.290/.331 with a 76 OPS+.
His minor league numbers have generated somewhat better results. In fact, Singelton’s power numbers have been impressive (42 home runs from 2015-16) with the Fresno Grizzlies. However, he had issues maintaining a decent batting average (.202) this past season. The talent is there, but he just hasn’t put it all together yet.
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The Astros somehow did not feel inclined to give Singleton another look at first base despite all of the turnover at the position. Chris Carter, A.J. Reed, Tyler White, Yulieski Gurriel, Marwin Gonzalez, and Luis Valbuena all received playing time at first base the past two seasons with varying levels of success. But it is no secret that the first base position has been an issue for years. It just seems to speak volumes what the Astros think of Singleton as a player if they have yet to give him another shot in the majors.
So, where do the Astros and Singleton go from here?
There is a chance that the former top prospect will go through waivers without being claimed and end up reassigned to Triple-A. The money owed on his existing contract could prevent teams from taking a risk on him. But he is only owed $4 million before the team options come into the equation. And at this rate, it is rather doubtful that any team will pick those options up. However, there could be a front office that sees value in his contract and if Singleton can turn it around then he could be an absolute bargain.
Then there is a possibility of a trade. Of course, that may require the Astros to eat a portion of his salary to allow the team get something back in return. But the front office may be willing to do just that. This would also enable Singleton the chance to move on to another franchise. A fresh start for both sides.
It is quite sad to see what could’ve been a successful partnership disintegrate further than ever expected. The Astros have a need at Singleton’s position, and the 25-year old has the talent. Sometimes the fit is just not there. And at this point there is no need to force it.
**Statistics and salary figures courtesy of Baseball Reference**