The Houston Astros are battling issues with the luxury tax, after the signing of Jake Odorizzi. If the team was to add Steven Souza Jr. and Steve Cishek to the 40-man roster, their contracts will border and go over this threshold, leaving the Astros in a position to be penalized.
Although his contract is an issue if he makes the roster, Souza has been underperforming and shouldn’t take a spot of a current player on the roster by being designated for assignment or moving someone like Forrest Whitley to the 60-day injured list and starting his service time clock. I did provide three players to DFA or trade, if Souza were to make the 40-man roster, but at this point, he is not worth it.
If the Astros don’t add Souza, who is the fourth outfielder?
While being the only non-roster invite position player with the best chance of making the active roster, Souza is not the best player to add as the fourth outfielder. Through 13 spring training at bats, the right-hander has only one hit, being a home run. Only two Astros have hit a home run this spring; the other being Jose Siri, who might be a better option in the next year or down the stretch. Souza, now 31-years-old, might not be the help in outfield or as a back up first baseman at the moment, and if he were to just sit in the minor leagues, the front office would have to create space later if they need his depth.
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While waiting on the progression of Pedro Leon, the team could stretch Aledmys Diaz to the outfield. Yordan Alvarez is listed as an outfielder, but his future will most likely be at first base if he were to play the field after his knee injuries. While also having the 24-year-old Bryan De La Cruz raking (.400) this spring, the Astros could fall on his shoulders, if Chas McCormick doesn’t workout to start. To add even more versatility, Garrett Stubbs can play left-field, along with second base and catcher.
With eight strikeouts this spring, Souza is swinging for the fences and has only had one good plate appearance. Though, it is not like he is hitting against Cy Young talent each at bat. Although being worked out for versatility, the team has Taylor Jones, Diaz and Alvarez to play first base, if Yuli Gurriel needed a day off. We are almost halfway through spring training, and he is not improving and a slump isn’t something to lean on either. He might find a better fit on another team, while the Astros should rely on their current talent and prospects.
While most of the future Sugar Land Skeeter took the field on Thursday, the Astros dropped the game 1-0 against the New York Mets on Thursday, while only having one hit and 17 strikeouts at the plate. They are back on the field tomorrow in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals at 5:05 p.m. On a good note, seven of the eight Astros that went through quarantine are back at practice, the one man out is Pedro Baez, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is in quarantine on his birthday.