Astros outfielder’s return from IL may only mean that he's now trade deadline fodder

Instead of trying to force Chas McCormick into getting playing time, Houston should use the opportunity to help the rest of their roster.
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

While the Houston Astros have been playing better of late, they still have a number of guys on the shelf dealing with injuries at the moment. Most of the injuries have been on the pitching side with Jose Urquidy still in the middle of his minor league rehab as he recovers from a forearm injury, and there is no telling when Forrest Whitley will come back, if at all.

However, the Astros did get some positive news on the position player side with outfielder Chas McCormick.

McCormick hurt his hamstring back in April after a very slow start to the season for him. However, his minor league rehab has gone well and he was activated from the IL on Tuesday. While getting guys healthy is great, McCormick's return creates a problem when it comes to playing time.

In the short-term, the Astros will likely just "figure it out" and play matchups. Given how this season has played out, however, McCormick may find himself as the odd man out and very available at the trade deadline.

Astros News: Chas McCormick activated off injured list

Before the Astros' roster move to option Trey Cabbage, there was the idea that Joey Loperfido could be sent back down to the minors to get regular at-bats once McCormick is officially activated. Getting Loperfido regular playing time in the minors isn't without merit, but feels misguided as he is hitting well in the big leagues right now whereas McCormick only has one decent big league season under his belt and was hitting .236 before he got hurt.

Loperfido is sticking around for the moment, but how he is used going forward is worth keeping an eye on with McCormick back.

Even if Houston does decide to send Loperfido back down at some point (say, when Abreu returns) and give McCormick some of his playing time in the short-term, it may not be for long. Loperfido seems to have a future with the Astros, and while McCormick and (the pending return of Jose Abreu) could force a silly looking roster move to cover things for a month or so, the Astros' front office's best long-term play may actually be to move McCormick at the trade deadline.

Amongst Houston's outfield options, Loperfido's upside is only eclipsed by Kyle Tucker, who is on a rampage at the moment. Against all logic, Jake Meyers also figured out how to hit in 2024, and given that combined with his sterling defense in center field, he probably isn't going anywhere soon.

That leaves left field, and while McCormick had a good 2023, he also isn't good enough to block a guy like Loperfido for long. Assuming Loperfido does get sent down for a bit, the best-case scenario is that McCormick plays well enough to entice a team to reach out to the Astros for a deal that could net Houston multiple pitching prospects given McCormick's remaining years of team control. If that happens, Houston can call Loperfido right back up and slot him back in.

Now, if the Astros just stick with McCormick and he struggles while Loperfido rakes down at Triple-A, that could present a pretty big problem and Houston could find themselves struggling once again.

More Astros News from Climbing Tal's Hill