The Houston Astros have added some outfield depth by signing outfielder Michael Brantley. According to Ken Rosenthal, the deal for Brantley is reportedly in the range of a two-year, $32 million deal. Other reports suggest there is a possible third-year option tied to this deal.
#Astros closing in on free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley, sources tell The Athletic. Rival executives expect deal to be in two-year, $32M range.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 17, 2018
In the 2018 season, Brantley hit for an average of .309, with 17 homers, 76 runs batted in, 12 steals and only 60 strikeouts in the 143 games played this past season. Brantley joins a crowded outfield with George Springer, prospect Kyle Tucker, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick and Tony Kemp. This addition will also help bring what is only the third left handed bat to the lineup. The other two: Reddick and Kemp.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers has put it best on Twitter, in my opinion, about what Brantley brings to the table as far as options go for his versatility in the lineup.
Well, something to think about...he can play left field at MMP which is a short area to patrol, that could keep him more fresh. He also hits LHH well so now you have the option to DH him whenever you need, since we have other great options to play outfield, and keep him DL free— Lance McCullers Jr. (@LMcCullers43) December 18, 2018
Under this theory, manager A.J. Hinch now has a way to figure out the lineup to start the regular season. With this move, the Astros have some options in the outfield. With Springer and Brantley as the two most likely guaranteed starters in the outfield every day, this acquisition now allows for a competition for the final starting spot and most likely two back up outfield positions.
With Marisnick, Kemp and Reddick, this will set up what looks to be an interesting battle during the upcoming spring training to see who will get center field position to start the 2019 regular season. Most likely, we won’t see Tucker join the Astros’ opening day roster. But we might see him show up to the major leagues sometime in July.
Recent rumors have suggested that the Astros are open to shopping Reddick around on the trade block. This could accelerate the possibility of Reddick being shipped elsewhere by the next trade deadline. The Astros, while not as strong as before, are still “in contention” for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. If the Astros are serious about shopping Reddick and want to have a shot at Realmuto, we might end up seeing Reddick included in a package to Miami for an opportunity to grab their catcher. However, it has been said by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Hinch that they are content with the two catchers they already have on the roster. Pulling off this move might create a vacancy for a backup outfield position; Tucker could then fight during spring training for a spot on the opening day roster.
More Astros news may be coming soon, as they are still interested in the services of DH Nelson Cruz, in addition to potentially shopping Reddick. Stay tuned to my twitter page @JordanSmithPXP for more information on the news about Cruz and his destination this offseason.
All stats courtesy of Major League Baseball