The Astros can't afford to spend a roster spot on Mauricio Dubon
Earlier this week we took a look at three players who deserve to make the Astros' Opening Day roster, but will be left off. A big reason they won't make it is Mauricio Dubon. The Astros view Dubon as a utility option, keeping him on the roster.
If Houston wants to hold off Seattle in the division and repeat as World Champs, that simply cannot happen. First, versatile defensively or not, Dubon simply can't hit. For his career, Dubon has a .653 OPS. Last season, he posted an unsightly .565 OPS. Jake Meyers couldn't have been worse in his return from injury and he managed to scrape together a .585 OPS. Houston has a great lineup, but with injury concerns, Dubon simply can't take up one of the nine batting spots.
The emergence of David Hensley also makes Dubon expendable. Hensley came up last season and in a small-sample size, posted a .345 batting average and 1.027 OPS. The postseason didn't overwhelm the rookie, who even picked up two hits in the World Series.
Hensley has stayed hot this spring, going deep twice and posting a 1.247 OPS in Spring Training. Dubon's is .641 for comparison.
According to Chandler Rome, the Astros are viewing Hensley and Dubon as a utility duo. This can't be the case. Hensley is a far superior baseball player, and while he can't play center field, the return of a fully health Jake Meyers and the Spring dominance of Justin Dirden means Houston doesn't have to worry about employing Dubon.
Lastly, question marks surround both Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley. Alvarez just began swinging today, while Brantley's Opening Day status is up in the air as he remains away from the team dealing with a family matter.
If Houston is down both left fielders, both their offense and defense take a hit. They can't lose both of those bats in the linup and replace it with Dubon. If one or both can't go, we'd likely see Chas McCormick start in left with Meyers in Center. Houston could then carry Justin Dirden to provide some offense in the corners as well.
Dubon seems like a fantastic human and there is room for him in the MLB--just not on the reigning champs. Houston needs to cut their losses and eat the $1 million he would be owed. While he will make the roster, the best move for the Astros would be to DFA Dubon and roll into 2023 with Hensley as the full-time utility player and Justin Dirden on the roster.