Will the Astros do what it takes to sign Michael Brantley?
For the past two seasons, Astros fans have called for Kyle Tucker to get promoted. He got his first shot last season and looked a little overmatched. While he didn’t have the best start to his career, fans were still in awe of his swing. Let’s avoid the comparisons at this time and focus on his future with the Astros. At the time of writing, he is penciled in as the everyday left fielder. In the middle of December, the front office has a decision to make before other targets go to other teams.
While the Astros have all the faith in the world in Tucker, they know how important depth is for a title contender. As Jeff Luhnow said, via Brian McTaggart, if Tucker is competing with a veteran outfielder this spring, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. As we have discussed on Talking Stros often this offseason, Michael Brantley has been tied to the Astros by Jeff Passan. You can imagine why the Astros have interest in Brantley. He would add another lefty power bat to the lineup.
The 31-year-old Brantley has struggled to stay healthy from 2016-2017. When healthy, he can be an imposing presence at the plate. He is coming if a season where he batted .309 with 17 homers and 76 RBI. He added 12 stolen bases, but the injury concerns are there.
Would the Astros be willing to take that risk and for how long a deal?
The upside for Tucker is high, but he has yet to show it in the big leagues yet. While the Astros want Tucker to succeed, but they also want a backup plan in case he struggles. Despite the lack of activity by the Astros during the meetings, many feel that they are looking for a third pitcher and a big bat. Not sure how much the Stros were into talks for Andrew McCutchen, but his deal increases the Brantley market.
McCutchen signed a three-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies with a team option for a fourth year. The Astros reportedly only offered Charlie Morton a one year deal per Bob Nightengale and a vesting option. It would be hard to see the Astros offering Brantley a similar deal to what McCutchen got. Brantley could be waiting for the Astros, or any other team, to add an extra year to the deal.
While Houston would like to sign Brantley, they will most likely remain patient waiting for the right deal. Outside of the doubtful Bryce Harper, Brantley could be the second best outfielder still on the free agent market. AJ Pollock and Marwin Gonzalez could have something to say about that. These guys won’t come cheap, Pollock and Brantley have an injury history.
Just like last year, the free agent market is slower than normal. This leaves many options still available, so it’s too early to panic. While they are probably confident in the players on the team, you can never have too much depth on the roster. We will discuss this and more on this week’s Talking Stros on Sunday night, 8-10 pm.