In 2022, the Astros had a good defensive backup when their regular utility man Aledmys Díaz was on the bench. In the middle of the season, they acquired Mauricio Dubón from the Giants to be in an even better position. But, now, Díaz is gone and Dubón is the only infield utility Houston entering 2023.
Is the 28-year-old a really good option to be the regular utility or the one who sees the most playing time in the Astros’ roster? If it was my call, the answer would be a big no to that question.
Dubón can’t hit. He posted a .208/.254/.294 slash line for Houston in 83 games and 216 plate appearances this year. That’s way worse than Aledmys’ .243/.287/.403 numbers. Also, Díaz hit 13 doubles and 12 home runs across 327 plate appearances, something that added value to his glove versatility.
If you like the idea of giving Dubón a chance to embrace the role, you won’t probably like the outcome when he starts along with Martín Maldonado at catcher. You need someone offensively better than Mauricio.
If the Astros and I think alike, they could go after a utility available in free agency. And even though there are not a great number of names out there, you can still find some options that should be better, at least on paper, than Dubón.
12-season veteran Josh Harrison might see his market go on fire in the following couple of months. He's coming off a decent year with the White Sox and, to this day, he’s played in every existing position in baseball but catcher. Harrison has posted a .270/.332/.390 slash line over the last three seasons (290 games, 1074 PAs).
Another one that could represent an upgrade over Dubón for the utility duties is Donovan Solano, which offers the best offense out of the group. Solano, 35, played in 80 games for the Reds in ’22 and slashed .284/.339/.385/.724 with 16 doubles and 79 total hits. He even won a Silver Slugger award in 2020.
Solano’s played all over the infield and has been a .301/.350/.421 hitter since 2019. Even though he’s been a good bench player, he’s pretty affordable based on what he made with Cincinnati this year ($4.5 million).
The final option available on the open market is 30-year-old Hanser Alberto, who gets hits despite not hitting the ball hard (81.3 MPH EV in 2022). Alberto’s best season came in 2019 with the Orioles, when he posted a .305/.329/.422 line along with 21 doubles and 12 homers across 139 games.
This year, Alberto was a Dodger and appeared in 73 contests. He makes up for his soft contact with great strikeout rates – his career strikeout percentage is at 12.2% and hasn’t struck out more than 50 times in any of his seasons. Alberto could be the most affordable one of these three.
It remains to be seen whether the Astros will hand Dubón the utility duties or will sign anyone else to do that job. In my opinion, they should do the latter.
What are your thoughts about this? Leave your word in the comments!