The Astros have reinstated first baseman/corner outfielder Taylor Jones from the 60-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Sugar Land, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 (via Twitter). To make room on the 40-man roster, the club recalled reliever Josh James and placed him on the major league 60-day injured list.
Jones has yet to play in the majors this season, as he began the year on the IL with a lower back injury. That kept him out for a few months, but he began a minor league rehab assignment on June 3. Position players are allotted up to 20 days on a rehab stint, so the time came for the Astros to reinstate him. He’s struggled over 14 rehab games with Sugar Land, however, and the club will keep him with the Space Cowboys on optional assignment.
The 28-year-old Jones saw some big league action in Houston during both the 2020-21 seasons. He’s tallied 130 plate appearances at the highest level, compiling a .236/.262/.398 line with a trio of home runs. The Gonzaga product has a more impressive .279/.373/.487 mark across parts of four Triple-A seasons. Assuming he spends 20+ days on optional assignment this season, he’ll exhaust his final option year.
James is dealing with a right lat strain. He hasn’t pitched in eight days and will now be ruled out for at least another two months. The right-hander broke into the big leagues late in the 2018 season, impressing with a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings while averaging over 97 MPH on his fastball. He struck out 37.6% of opponents over a career-high 61 1/3 frames the following year, but he paired that swing-and-miss stuff with home run troubles and wobbly control en route to a 4.70 ERA.
Issues with his left hip cost James much of the 2020-21 seasons, and he struggled during his limited looks on the mound. He’s spent the entire 2022 campaign with Sugar Land, posting a 7.59 ERA through 21 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate has plummeted to 20.6% in the minors, while he’s walked almost 16% of opponents. He won’t be back until mid-August at the earliest, and it’s possible his time in the organization could be nearing its end.
James is making $800K this season after avoiding arbitration over the winter. While he’ll accrue service time during his IL stint, he’s already spent enough time in the minors he won’t eclipse four-plus service years this season. Theoretically, he’s controllable through 2025, although he’ll probably be a non-tender candidate next offseason considering his minor league performance and renewed injury concerns.