The Astros have signed first baseman Jon Singleton to a minor league deal, The Athletic’s Chandler Rome reports (Twitter link). Singleton elected to become a free agent earlier this week rather than accept an outright assignment to the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate.
There’s plenty of familiarity between Singleton and his new/old team, since the first baseman has spent much of his career in the Houston organization. Singleton was a highly-regarded prospect in his days in the Astros’ farm system, to the point that the Astros locked him up to a five-year extension worth $10MM in guaranteed money before Singleton had even made his Major League debut. At the time, it was a record-setting contract for a non-international player who didn’t have any MLB service time.
However, Houston’s early investment didn’t pay off, as Singleton hit only .171/.290/.331 over 420 plate appearances during the 2014-15 seasons. His longstanding battle with marijuana addiction led to three different drug-related suspensions, leading to the Astros’ decision to finally release him in May 2018. After a few years away from baseball entirely, Singleton returned in the Mexican League in 2021, then landed a minor league contract with the Brewers during the 2021-22 offseason.
After a couple of other releases and re-signings with Milwaukee on new minor league deals, Singleton finally made it back to the majors earlier this month when the Brewers selected his contract. It wasn’t a long or particularly productive (11 games and a .325 OPS over 32 PA) stint for Singleton before the Brewers designated him for assignment, leading to Singleton’s decision to reject the outright assignment and test the open market again.
There has obviously been a lot of overhaul within Houston’s front office since Singleton’s past tenure with the club, yet beyond just any longstanding connections, Singleton is an interesting depth addition purely for baseball reasons. The Astros’ lineup is heavy with right-handed batters, so Singleton’s lefty bat can possibly provide some balance. In addition, Jose Abreu is unexpectedly struggling through a very tough season, leaving the Astros thin at first base. While Singleton hasn’t been productive at the MLB level, his presence at least gives Houston a potential alternative if it wants to reduce Abreu’s playing time down to a platoon scenario.
If Singleton gets a look and doesn’t pan out, the Astros could then explore adding a more proven first-base capable player at the trade deadline. GM Dana Brown has spoken about how the team would like to add a left-handed hitting multi-positional player, though Singleton doesn’t fit the mold as a first base-only type.