Projecting the Astros’ outfield heading into the New Year
The Astros’ outfield may be a bit crowded as currently constructed, but this issue isn’t a bad one.
Barring something unforeseen, the Astros will likely have a starting outfield consisting of George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick. All in all, those three would represent a terrific outfield. However, the club also has a few other players who could force their way onto the field. Top prospect, Kyle Tucker, stands out as the obvious example. Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, Derek Fisher, and Myles Straw are also candidates for the outfield.
Overall, the Astros have some interesting decisions to make regarding this position group come spring training. Let’s break down the chances of each outfield candidate.
George Springer – 100%
Well, this one is obvious as Springer is projected to be a four-win player in 2019 by FanGraphs. Unless injuries besiege the Astros’ best outfielder, his spot on the field is safe.
Michael Brantley – 100%
With the ink still wet on his two-year, $32 million contract, Houston’s latest addition to the outfield is guaranteed to play. The question with Brantley is whether his body will hold out for an entire season without injuries as 2018 was his first season of relatively little injuries issues since 2015.
Josh Reddick – 75%
At this point, I would be surprised if Reddick isn’t on the Astros’ Opening Day roster. Although Houston would probably like to shed the two-years, $26 million left on his contract, I’d doubt that there are many interested buyers. Rather than trading away a prospect to sweeten the deal, the Astros ought to keep Reddick around next season. Remember Tucker isn’t exactly proven and Brantley’s injury history may force him to DH at times.
Tony Kemp – 50%
One of the Astros’ more consistent players last season was Kemp, who may make the club next year as a reserve outfielder. With a 110 wRC+ through 295 plate appearances in 2018, the now 27-year old jumpstarted the roster at various points with timely hitting and incredible defensive plays. His versatility and pre-arbitration contract situation are other factors to consider for the 2019 season. Aledmys Diaz may cut into playing time for Kemp, especially in left field.
Jake Marisnick – 20%
Why do I feel like Reddick’s and Marisnick’s situation with the Astros sort of hinge with each other? If Reddick stays, then I am not sure if Marisnick sticks around. But say Reddick is traded between now and spring training, Marisnick’s position with the club may improve. Either way, Marisnick needs to prove he can consistently hit major league pitching to stick around in the long-term. By the way, Marisnick is about to go through another round of arbitration, so that little tidbit may influence any decision the Astros make.
Derek Fisher – 5%
The only way I can see Fisher, a pinch-running hero in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series, making the roster is if a surge of injuries afflicts the Astros’ outfield. If he doesn’t make the club, then Fisher represents some important depth in the minors.
Myles Straw – 5%
Keep in mind that I do see Straw’s chances of sticking on the major league roster improving if Marisnick and/or Fisher is no longer around. I will also be curious to see if the Astros give Fisher another opportunity in 2019 if the situation calls for it. I like Straw a lot, but I do believe there is a bit too much competition next year.