August 23: Alvarez was transferred to the 45-day injured list today, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Right-hander Chase DeJong had his contract selected for the 40-man roster, while Humberto Castellanos was optioned.
August 18: The Astros announced that DH Yordan Alvarez has been placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to August 16) due to right knee discomfort. Infielder Taylor Jones has been called up from Houston’s alternate training site to take Alvarez’s roster spot.
Alvarez has appeared in only two games for the Astros this season, as he missed all of Summer Camp for undisclosed reasons and thus needed a few weeks to ramp up before joining the active roster. Even once playing and even while homering and singling over his nine plate appearances, Alvarez was hampered by his knees, as he was a late scratch from Sunday’s lineup. An MRI was negative, as Alvarez’s issues may simply be chronic.
“I asked [Alvarez] when did he start having these problems, and he said back in Double-A,” manager Dusty Baker told MLB.com’s Alyson Footer and other reporters yesterday. “Most of the time when you have knee problems, they don’t subside very quickly. And when they do, they have a history of coming back.”
The Astros were only planning to use Alvarez only as a DH this season, and it seems possible that the 23-year-old might already be ticketed for DH-only duty at this early stage in his career if his knee problems prevent him from taking the field at first base or in left field. That certainly puts a limitation on Alvarez’s overall value, though he has already shown a lot of talent at the plate — a whopping .313/.412/.655 slash line and 27 homers over 369 PA in 2019 earned Alvarez the American League’s Rookie Of The Year award.
Pitching injuries have been the story of the Astros’ season thus far, though the club is now missing two of its top bats with Alvarez and Michael Brantley both on the IL. Jones, a 19th-round pick in the 2016 draft, may be more suited for bench depth than a regular role, though he did hit .291/.388/.501 over 531 Triple-A plate appearances in 2019 (albeit in the most hitter-friendly Triple-A season in history). Jones made his big league debut earlier this season, appearing in one game for the Astros.