The Astros and first baseman Chris Gittens are in agreement on a minor league deal, as noted in the transactions log on his MLB.com profile page. It’s currently unclear whether or not the deal will include an invitation to big league Spring Training next month.
Gittens, 30 in February, was a 12th-round pick by the Yankees back in 2014. He spent several years slowly moving up the big league ladder until he eventually reached the majors during the 2021 season. His stint with the big league club ultimately lasted just 16 games, during which he struggled to a .111/.250/.194 slash line. Despite those brutal numbers in the majors, Gittens excelled at the Triple-A level in 2021 with a fantastic slash line of .301/.440/.644 in 184 trips to the plate.
That strong performance earned Gittens an opportunity overseas, and he signed on with the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball prior to the 2022 season. Across two years as a member of the Eagles, Gittens made it into just 50 games, but the slugger impressed in that limited playing time with a .299/.426/.493 slash line in 169 trips to the plate. That performance was evidently enough for the Astros to have interest in Gittens, who figures to carry little risk as a likely minor league signing.
Gittens has struggled to stay on the field in recent years, having stepped up to the plate in a professional game just 289 times since the end of the 2019 campaign. That being said, the slugger has hit well in every opportunity when healthy during that time, with the notable exception of his aforementioned 16-game cup of coffee in the majors back in 2021. Headed into the 2024 season, Gittens could be given the opportunity this spring to compete with fellow first baseman Jon Singleton as a bench bat who can back up veteran Jose Abreu at first.