Houston Astros news: MLB insider suggests realistic but impactful target to upgrade 1B instead of Pete Alonso

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Credit: Daniel Kucin Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros badly need to improve the production from first base before the July 30 MLB trade deadline and a league insider offered a realistic target that would not cost much and could be a big help down the stretch.

Heading into the MLB games today, the Astros are still making their way through what has been a frustrating 2024 season. While they reside in second place in a tough American League West, they are seven games under .500 and a whopping 10 games behind division leaders the Seattle Mariners. Nevertheless, the organization is still hoping for a turnaround.

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This week, Sportsnaut asked USA Today MLB insider Bob Nigtengale if Houston could possibly wave the white flag and potentially be sellers before the July 30 MLB trade deadline. However, he believes the team would need to take an even deeper dive before they ever considered such a strategy.

“I think they want to be buyers,” Nightengale said. “I think they feel we’ll have [Framber] Valdez and [Justin’ Verlander in the playoffs. You’ll get [Lance] McCullers back, let’s see what happens. I don’t see them selling. I think they’d have to have a big freefall … I think they’ll still go for this thing knowing that if you get hot in the postseason anything can happen.”

If the Astros intend on being buyers in the next few weeks, all signs point to upgrading first base to be a top priority. Their production from the position has been some of the worst in the league, and that was before they cut ties with former AL MVP Jose Abreu last week. While the team has been linked to a potential trade for New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso, Nightengale believes there is a more reasonable option in the same division.

“They need a first baseman. The production from first base is second-worst [behind] the Rockies in all of baseball. I just don’t know if they’d give up a big-time prospect to go get Alonso,” said Nightengale. “I’m sure the Mets will ask for a lot knowing everybody needs home run hitters. He would be a perfect type of [trade] candidate.

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“Maybe they go cheaper and say you know what, we can get a Josh Bell for pretty much free from the Marlins. Making $16 million, if we pick up the rest of his salary they’ll probably give him to us.”

While Bell is far removed from his All-Star former of 2019, he is still a solid threat in any lineup while also offering competent defense at first base. He has a solid .240/.307/.369 slash line this season and offers a power threat. He hit 22 home runs last season and earned Silver Slugger honors in 2022.

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