Astros to option José Abreu to Minor Leagues

HOUSTON — Astros first baseman José Abreu has agreed to be optioned to the minor leagues, general manager Dana Brown said Tuesday. This decision will come into effect on Wednesday and a corresponding roster change will then be announced.

Abreu will report to the Astros’ spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., to try to get his timing back amid his early season struggles.

“We think (once) we can have Jose in this environment, that there are a lot of good things that can come out of it,” Brown said. “Both parties agreed to achieve this. We’re actually confident that we can take him out there and work on specific things like pace and timing and keeping his head on the ball. … I hope we get him back here as soon as possible.

Houston manager Joe Espada said it would be similar to spring training for Abreu.

“We want to control the volume of at-bats,” Espada said. “We’ll have the coordinators there with him, guys who hit ground balls. We will progress in the volume he needs. We want to do things right. … We’ll let Jose dictate how many at-bats (he gets) and how to progress from day to day.

Brown said picking a veteran like Abreu is rare, but it speaks to him as a human being.

“He was frustrated,” Brown said. “He wore it. … It’s rare to do that, but I think it speaks to us about his dedication and his commitment. I don’t think he sees this as a long-term (thing), and I don’t don’t think we see it’s a long term thing.

Abreu is hitting .099 with a .269 OPS, one extra base hit and three RBIs in 22 games to start the season.

“It’s been a struggle for him,” Brown said. “There’s no doubt about it. I’ve been in football a long time and it’s tough to see a veteran player go through that. So when you watch him go through that, and you know we have to fix this guy, it’s hard to fix it at the Major League level.

Brown said there is no timetable for how long Abreu will stay in the minors.

Brown said the meeting took place Monday between members of the coaching staff, front office and Abreu.

“He’s unselfish and he’s a guy who’s close to his teammates,” Brown said. “He wants to get back to what he was doing last fall. In the middle of this conversation, you could see that this guy is passionate and determined to get back to helping this team. He was selflessly on board with an agreement (to) go back to West Palm Beach and get additional bats and get detailed instructions on what we can do to get him back.

Abreu, 37, is a three-time All-Star, former American League MVP (2020) and Rookie of the Year (2014) during an impressive nine-year stint with the White Sox. Abreu’s production declined in 2023, the first of a three-year, $58.5 million contract he signed with the Astros, when he slashed .237/.296/.383 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs in 141 games.

Brown said he was “optimistic” they could get Abreu back to where he was because of his bat speed, and Espada agreed.

“All the metrics, that’s what it says,” Espada said. “We look at his swing path, when he gets the barrel on the ball, the way the ball comes off the bat. Everything shows that he is there. It’s just trying to time him, trying to get him to repeat his swing. That’s what we’re trying to do. Put him in an environment where he can have as many at-bats as he wants and just try to get his timing down so that he can feel comfortable and come out here and be the player that we we saw last year at the end of the season. »

The Astros have struggled at first base so far in 2024, with no home runs from that position.

In Abreu’s absence, Espada said Jon Singleton, who starts Tuesday, would get playing time at the position, but there were other players on the roster who could also see playing time early. That could include Mauricio Dubón and Joey Loperfido, who the Astros called up from Triple-A Sugar Land on Tuesday to make his Major League debut.

“We need to get some production out of first base,” Brown said. “We will do whatever we need to do.”

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