Will the Astros Lock up George Springer with Stanton-Like Contract?


When George Springer came up last year, it was the most anticipated debut by an Astros prospect since Hunter Pence. Back in 2007, Astros fans heard of this guy named Hunter destroying minor league pitching. When he came up, his on-field antics made him a fan favorite right off the bat. When George Springer came up in 2014, he brought this energy to the clubhouse where the Astros started having fun playing baseball again.

Let’s look at the early years of Giancarlo Stanton and his 13 year contract and George Springer. Earlier Jason Burke of Climbing Tal’s Hill compared the rookie years of Stanton and Springer. Here is the table he used.

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While Springer’s batting average was a little lower, most of the other numbers compare favorably to Giancarlo Stanton‘s rookie year. It has only been one year into Springer’s career, but like Stanton, his career has started with injury issues. Stanton’s first three years were productive but his potential was hindered by injuries. However, during his fourth year, he stayed healthy and showed the world what he was capable of. Had Springer not had the nagging leg injury that caused him to miss about half the season, he could have run away with the Rookie of the Year award.

During the Astros data breach of “Ground Control”  in 2014, it was released that the Astros were offered Giancarlo Stanton for George Springer and Carlos Correa. Luhnow probably saw the value of that trade, but like the Angels GM said when asked about Mike Trout, he listened but probably said no thank you. If George Springer is supposed to be like Stanton and Carlos Correa is thought to be this generation’s Troy Tulowitzki, that would have been a one-sided trade.

For more information on Giancarlo Stanton, in November 2014, he signed a 13 year $325 million dollar contract, with a player’s opt out after the 2020 season. He will be a Miami Marlin until 2027 or 2028 with a team option, so the Marlins decided to build around their slugger. The first three years of his contract are actually reasonably priced per year. The Marlins essentially bought out the rest of his arbitration years, after which the big dollar contract hits. His contract is very back-loaded to allow for the growth of the current club.

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Unlike Springer (first round 2011 draft), Stanton was a second round pick in the 2007 draft. Being a first round pick puts more expectations on Springer to be productive. Springer needs to learn how to protect his body like former top prospects Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have learned due to various injuries over the years.

Should Springer stay healthy, he should have a comparable year to Stanton’s second year. Now here comes the interesting Springer tidbit, he already turned down a contract extension prior to the 2014 season. He was offered a 7 year 23 million dollar contract in January, and rejected the deal. Does that mean he does not want to be an Astro for the next 7 years?

I think the Astros were trying to buy out his arbitration years at a cheap rate, and used his call-up as a carrot to sign the extension. Springer probably took a calculated risk that his production would lead to a larger contract, unlike what Jon Singleton did prior to his call-up.

So if Springer’s career will parallel Stanton’s career, he will sign his multi-year deal after the 2017 season in which the Astros have just wrapped up their World Series push. His contract will keep him with the Astros until the 2030 season, if he signs a similar 13 year deal. Would the Astros make such a large investment in one player?

I think it depends on what Springer does the next three years, as well as how well Stanton does in that same time period. If Stanton turns out to be a bust, then the Astros might be more afraid to lock up Springer for that long. Imagine if the Astros signed Carlos Lee for a 13 year deal instead of the 6 year $100 million deal they did in 2007, it would have been a terrible 7 year stretch.

The six-year, $100-million contract the Texans gave J.J. Watt is the exact deal Carlos Lee got from the Astros prior to the 2007 season.

I’m not comparing Springer to Lee, but the Astro have been burned by multi-year contracts in the past. I think Springer will earn his money, and I believe that he will be in an Astros uniform for many years. Right now, I’m hoping for a full season in 2015 to see what he is capable off. I’m also hoping that the injuries are behind him, so that his stolen-base numbers could increase.

Watching the Astros without Springer was not the same at the end of the year, so most people believe that George Springer is the face of the Astros, much like Stanton is the face of the Marlins.

Next: The Astros Are Past the Lose Now Era