July 12, 2024

The Houston Astros have been a major letdown in the early stages of the 2024 MLB season, sitting at a disappointing 12-23 record as of May 8, placing them at the bottom of the American League West. Despite this, speculation arises: Could they reverse their fortunes and become active buyers before the trade deadline? And might they set their sights on acquiring Toronto Blue Jays’ first baseman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.?

In a May 6 article for The Athletic, Jim Bowden proposed a hypothetical trade between Houston and Toronto:

Houston Astros receive: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Toronto Blue Jays receive: Joey Loperfido (first baseman/outfielder) and Kenedy Corona (outfielder)

 

The season that was: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - Bluebird Banter

 

Bowden pointed out that Guerrero is set to become a free agent after the 2025 season, and with no long-term deal in place yet, the Blue Jays could fetch a better return by trading him now rather than waiting. He emphasized Guerrero’s youth at 25 years old, suggesting the potential of him slotting between Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker for the next couple of seasons or more.

Both Loperfido (sixth) and Corona (12th) rank among the top 15 prospects in the Astros’ system according to MLB.com. Loperfido has recently debuted for the Astros in the MLB, while Corona is currently playing in Double-A.

How Would Guerrero-to-Houston Actually Work?

Initially, Houston’s pursuit of Guerrero might seem perplexing given their commitment to Jose Abreu at first base until 2025. However, Abreu’s performance has been lackluster amidst the team’s poor start. His dismal .059/.156/.113 triple slash in the first 77 plate appearances of 2024, including minimal extra-base hits and negative offensive metrics, underscores his struggles. Even in his first year with Houston, although his stats appeared respectable, his overall performance was subpar.

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. enjoyed dominant first half of MLB season - The  Washington Post

Abreu’s recent demotion to the minors on April 30 reflects the team’s attempt to address his deep slump. However, if this corrective measure fails and Houston needs to bolster their offense via trades, Guerrero becomes a viable option. While Toronto may not be actively selling yet, their own sluggish start suggests a potential shift in strategy. Guerrero’s numbers, while not stellar, offer an improvement over Abreu’s, particularly if the current alternatives at first base aren’t delivering sufficient production.

Are the Astros Thinking About Selling at the Deadline?

Despite a rocky start, May typically isn’t the moment to throw in the towel for a season. While the Miami Marlins exemplify this, the Houston Astros came into the 2024 season with different outlooks. With seven consecutive appearances in the American League Championship Series and two World Series victories, they carry significant expectations.

The expanded MLB postseason also offers more opportunities for struggling teams to bounce back post-All-Star break. Will the Astros consider selling before the July 30 trade deadline? According to Houston general manager Dana Brown, that’s not a serious consideration. Brown expressed confidence in the team’s capabilities, stating that if players start to improve, positive outcomes will follow. Despite the Astros’ stance, questions about their performance will persist until they demonstrate a turnaround.

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