Was Jose Abreu's return aligned with potential Astros massive trade deadline move?

The Astros may need to become big-time buyers at the MLB trade deadline.
Houston Astros first baseman José Abreu
Houston Astros first baseman José Abreu / G Fiume/GettyImages

Jose Abreu made his not-so-triumphant return to the Houston Astros lineup on Monday. While Abreu did go 1-for-3 with an RBI, if we're being honest, the expectations for the former MVP to return to the player he once was seem out of reach.

But the Astros — based on Abreu's three-year, $58.5 million contract alone — need to figure out if first baseman still has something left in the tank. And what better time to do that than right now? While the trade deadline is still over a month away, several potential sellers have already emerged. The Miami Marlins already got the ball rolling by trading Luis Arráez a couple weeks ago.

Abreu's tune-up in the minor leagues is now behind him. Chances are good that if he doesn't move in the right direction over the next few weeks, he's not going to. If that happens, the Astros may be forced to go outside the organization in order to bolster the lineup.

Would the Astros deal for Pete Alonso or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the MLB trade deadline?

The Astros made a big move last summer to help boost the starting rotation after adding Justin Verlander in a deal with the New York Mets. Might Astros GM Dana Brown go back to the same well? While the executive in charge has changed, the Mets could make a good trade partner for the Astros if Abreu fails to return to form.

Most baseball pundits believe that Pete Alonso will be on the move sometime this summer. The Mets' slugger is in the final year of his contract, and with the Philadelphia Phillies looking to run away with the NL East, New York may be looking to sell at this year's trade deadline.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is another name to watch. Vladdy has an extra year of team control remaining, so the price tag would be steeper — both in terms of prospect capital and salary commitment. But Guerrero's career .842 OPS would look quite nice in the heart of the Astros batting order.

Did Astros time Jose Abreu return to align with potential blockbuster trade deadline decision?

A smaller name to keep a close eye on is Josh Bell. The former All-Star isn't off to a great start this season, but the return that the Marlins could expect for a player like Bell would be much less than what Houston would have to give up in order to land Alonso or Guerrero.

The Astros would love to see Abreu have a renaissance-type of season, but that seems like a foolish line of thinking given what he's done since arriving in Houston last season. There will be options at the trade deadline. The question will be whether or not the Astros are willing to make a major splash.

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