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“No Way to Sugarcoat This”: Houston Astros GM Gives Brutally Honest Verdict on José Abreu After Atrocious Run of Form

Published 04/22/2024, 1:00 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

Remember that blockbuster signing of José Abreu by the Houston Astros in the 2022 off-season? The move that was supposed to catapult them back into World Series contention? Well, let’s just say things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. They’ve gone about as poorly as anyone could have imagined. The veteran first baseman, a former MVP with a track record of mashing baseballs, has fallen flat on his face in Houston.

His struggles have been nothing short of disastrous, leaving both the player and the team searching for answers. Is this a temporary blip or a sign of a steeper decline? Will the Astros remain patient, or will they be forced to make a tough decision about their struggling star?

José Abreu: A statistical nightmare

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Abreu’s numbers this season are nothing short of brutal. We’re talking a paltry .068 batting average, a mere 4 hits in 59 at-bats, and a whopping 17 strikeouts. His struggles extend beyond the batter’s box too, with three errors at first base adding insult to injury. This is a far cry from the All-Star-caliber player the Astros signed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract.

Astros GM Dana Brown acknowledged the severity of the slump, saying, “Listen, there’s no way to sugarcoat this: he’s scuffling right now and I think he knows it. It’s wearing on him. I’m sure it’s wearing on our hitting coaches.”

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Brown expressed hope for a turnaround but conceded that change might be necessary. “The frustration mounts, but ultimately, hopefully, he can turn this thing around,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to give him some time off, maybe platoon a little bit just to see if one of the other guys can get hot and give him some time off. Maybe he can catch fire after a few days off.”

Brown’s comments reveal a precarious situation for José Abreu. His hefty contract makes benching him a financially tough pill to swallow. The Astros need much better results from their high-priced first baseman, given his track record. However, they can’t afford to let his struggles become a drag on the entire offense. Brown made it clear he wouldn’t allow this slump to continue hindering the team’s offensive production. So, what’s next for Abreu?

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A shadow of his former self: Can Abreu recapture his magic?

The Astros clearly haven’t given up on him yet. Brown acknowledged Abreu’s past success, stating, “It’s tough to watch when you see him go through these struggles because you know he’s such a gamer and he’s a competitor and you look at what he did toward the end of last year, all of that was exciting.” 

However, the GM also made it clear that Abreu needs to find his swing soon. “He’s got to climb out of it or else we’re going to have to mix and match because it’s tough to keep going in that direction,” Brown stated.

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José Abreu is undoubtedly a talented hitter. But baseball is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of sport—and “lately” hasn’t been kind to Abreu. The Astros are a team with championship aspirations, and they can’t afford to wait forever for a $19.5 million-a-year first baseman to find his groove. 

While they seem willing to give him a shot to turn things around, their patience has a limit. If the slugger doesn’t show signs of improvement soon, the team might be forced to make a difficult decision: swallow their pride (and their money) and bench their struggling star. Right now, every at-bat becomes increasingly crucial as the Astros face a pressing question: can they afford to wait for their high-priced first baseman to heat up, or will they be forced to make a move sooner rather than later?

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Written by:

Shrabana Sengupta

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Shrabana Sengupta is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Shrabana shot to fame when she covered two prime MLB events: the 2023 World Series and the Free Agency that followed. During the 2023 World Series, Shrabana wrote her unfeigned perspectives on the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager and his wife, the 27x World Series Champions’ heartbreaking season, and later covered Shohei Ohtani’s highly anticipated record-breaking contract in 2023-24.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav