Bringing Jose Abreu back could cost their Astros the season if they aren’t careful

Once Jose Abreu makes his inevitable return to the Astros, they need to have him on a really short leash.
Houston Astros v Texas Rangers
Houston Astros v Texas Rangers / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Houston Astros already have a bit of a roster puzzle to solve as things stand. With the news that Chas McCormick got activated off the injured list, playing time for guys like Mauricio Dubon and Joey Loperfido was already an open question that may necessitate a trade deadline move to clear some roster space. Now, they will have to contend with what to do once Jose Abreu returns.

Most thought that when Abreu was optioned to the minors, it was going to be for an extended stay. He had been just so bad and needed enough work that a short turnaround just didn't make much sense. However, the news now is that Abreu could return as soon as this weekend, and that presents an even bigger challenge that could make or break Houston's season.

Jose Abreu deserve a chance, but also a very, very short leash from the Astros

The ideal scenario is that Abreu comes back up from his time in the minors and immediately looks like himself again. The best kind of problem for any team to have is too many good players, and if Abreu hitting like the guy Houston wanted when they signed him, that is good news for everyone in the long-term, even if it is a headache to write a lineup for a little while.

However, things get a lot dicier if Abreu comes back and continues to struggle. Yes, the Astros owe Abreu almost $20 million this year as well as next year, but this isn't the first time he has struggled, as he was one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2023 (with, yes, the notable exception of a short flourish at the end of the year and in the playoffs). At some point, his contract could easily be a sunk cost.

The other problem is that for Houston to find out if Abreu is, indeed, back in form, it comes at the cost of other guys that are playing well. Joey Loperfido has been great since his call up and he is already having to battle for playing time now that McCormick is healthy. Envisioning a world where McCormick's production doesn't bounce back and Abreu is actually just washed, while guys like Mauricio Dubon and Loperfido are sitting around, creates a scenario that could cost the Astros games on the regular.

Houston is at the point where success is expected, not hoped for. It is one thing to have too many guys playing well and not enough roster spots. It is another to be like the Astros, who dug a huge hole for themselves early in the season, have finally shown signs of life and health again, and now risk fielding a strictly worse lineup just because guys are veterans and are owed real money. If the Astros are serious about competing this year, they can't sit around and let Abreu flail in the batter's box for long.

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