While the rumors were circulating that the Houston Astros were in the market to find a quality first baseman early in the offseason, many envisioned the likes of Corey Hart, James Loney or even Mike Morse suiting up in Houston this Spring. Well, in response to their need at first, the Astros acquired the pinch-hitting first baseman Jesus Guzman from the San Diego Padres and gave up the recently signed Ryan Jackson.
If Guzman is indeed the answer to the Astros’ first base questions, then he has a lot to prove.
Guzman is 29 years old and had a terrible 2013, hitting .226 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs in 318 plate appearances. However, toss out 2013 and he’s hitting a solid .277 in over 500 plate appearances. That’s quite the contrast.
The signing won’t please many fans. That being said, it’s unlikely that the Astros signed Guzman thinking “this is the guy to solve all of our problems at first base.” They got him for free, basically, as Jackson was a free agent signing. If nothing else, he’s just another name in the hat to be fighting for the coveted first base job in Houston. Brett Wallace is on about as short of a leash as they come. Chris Carter is best used elsewhere. Jonathan Singleton is supposedly still another minor-league year away from starting. And yet they all have a shot.
All in all, this signing provides more questions at first base than it does answers. But maybe that was the objective. The pool of first baseman is largely evaporated, so the answer now became getting a bargain buy and crossing some fingers. Let’s hope it pays off.