Houston Has A Problem: Astros Release Struggling Veteran José Abreu, Eat Massive Contract

The Texas Rangers' biggest rival might be in trouble or turning the corner following the release of former MVP José Abreu.
Jun 5, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Jose Abreu (79) reacts after a play during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Jose Abreu (79) reacts after a play during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As the Texas Rangers look to move out of second place in the AL West, the Houston Astros remain within striking distance in the standings. However, one significant move could be a sign of optimism or the start of a potential sale before the deadline.

The Astros officially released struggling first baseman  from their roster Friday morning. The club has yet to announce a corresponding move and the potential long-term plan before starting a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Abreu, the former 2020 AL MVP, fell hard following his departure from the Chicago White Sox. The Astros believed that despite a lack of home runs in his final season with the White Sox, the dimensions of Minute Maid Park would work for him.

They didn't.

Abreu signed a three-year, $58.5 million contract but has struggled mightily at the plate over 176 games with the Astros. He didn't hit his first home run until 52 games into his Astros' tenure and never batted over .237. His contact rate increased at the close of the regular season, but Houston invested in his power.

In 35 games, Abreu batted .124 with two homers. He was sent to the team's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., for rehabilitation after beginning the season batting .99, but little had improved once recalled earlier this month.

Perhaps the lone bright spot of Abreu's tenure in Houston came in the postseason against the Rangers in the ACLS. The Cuban native batted .271 with a home run and five RBI.

While Abreu's departure opens a roster spot, Houston's options at first remain a concern. Between Abreu and Jon Singleton, Houston has a .181 average and .553 OPS from their first basemen, the second-lowest among clubs heading into Father's Day weekend.

There have been conversations about potentially working with rookie outfielder Joey Loperfido at first base at Triple-A Sugar Land, but timing is everything.

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Cole Thompson

COLE THOMPSON

Cole Thompson is a sports writer and columnist covering the NFL and college sports for SI's Fan Nation. A 2016 graduate from The University of Alabama, follow him on Twitter @MrColeThompson.