WASHINGTON — With starting second baseman Jose Altuve and starting shortstop Jeremy Peña struggling with nagging injuries and the Astros not getting much production from their bench, the club made a trade Saturday to bolster its positional player depth, acquiring Mauricio Dubón from the Giants in exchange for minor league catcher Michael Papierski.
Dubón, 27, played four years in the big leagues, mostly with the Giants, after being acquired from the Brewers. He has a career cut line of .258/.301/.395 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 179 games. He has played mostly in center field, but has substantial time at second base and shortstop, as well as a bit at third.
Astros general manager James Click said Dubón will join the Astros in Washington on Sunday, when a corresponding roster change will be made.
“Mauricio is a guy we’ve targeted from this offseason and targeted to try to make the team,” Click said. “We couldn’t do it at that time and carried on the conversation with the Giants for a while. He’s a multi-position player who brings a lot in terms of defensive versatility.
Peña, who is having a strong rookie season, sat out Friday’s series opener in Washington due to right knee discomfort he suffered while running the bases Thursday in Minneapolis. Altuve slipped on the wet grass late in Friday’s game and was taken out in the ninth inning as a precaution. We don’t know what Altuve hurt. Click doesn’t believe Altuve or Peña will need a stint on the injured list.
“These kind of nagging injuries, as well as Aledmys Díaz [nagging injury], really highlighted for me the marathon that we have ahead of us and really helped motivate us to take this step,” said Click. “We don’t anticipate either of these guys having to go to IL, but we’ll reevaluate the roster after today and see what makes the most sense.”
Still, the Astros haven’t gotten much production from their bench this year. Infielder/outfielder Díaz, who also had a hand problem, hits .191/.257/.294, and infielder Niko Goodrum hits .128/.171/.179. Dubón could provide more punch offensively, and Click thinks he’s a solid multi-position defender.
“There are a lot of multi-position guys who are weaker at one position, maybe, than another,” Click said. “We don’t feel like Mauricio is falling into that. We believe he can provide quality defense in the outfield, and our defense is something that has been critical to this team’s success this season. We think he can be a big part of that in the future.
The Astros have only two other infielders on the Triple-A 40-man roster — Joe Perez and JJ Matijevic — and both came in earlier this year to fill out the short-stay roster.
Papierski, a ninth-round pick in 2017, has put up a .211/.324/.278 slant line in 26 games this season at Triple-A with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.