In our FanSided Winter Meetings simulation, the Astros worked out a contract extension with George Springer.
There are a number of Astros topics that will take precedence this offseason, such as figuring out the pitching staff and the catching tandem. But there is one issue that looms in the not-too-distant future, and that is the long-term status of George Springer.
The star leadoff hitter is entering his final year of club control before being eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. He is arbitration eligible one final time and is projected to earn north of $20 million next season. He turned 30 in September and should be right in the middle of his prime.
The Astros will probably explore contract extension talks with him this offseason, though it’s hard to tell what the chances are of a deal actually coming to fruition. It would be a huge boost if the club could keep him in Houston long-term, as my colleague Brian Murray pointed out that Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick and Jake Marisnick will also hit free agency after 2020.
Now in our simulation, I’ve already traded Reddick. My second order of business was to extend Springer, as he’s a crucial part of the team. Thankfully I was successful in working out a deal with Springer’s “agent” that keeps him in an Astros uniform for several more years.
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The deal agreed to in the simulation is a six-year, $140 million contract that begins with the 2020 season. Springer would earn $24 million in each of the first five years and $20 million in the sixth year.
In truth, I was happy to agree to this deal. For one, I like that Springer is paid less in the final year, when he will be 35 years old. It makes sense to pay him more money in the earlier years of the deal when he will be younger and presumably more productive.
The average annual value of this deal is $23.33 million, which isn’t too exorbitant considering how good a player Springer is. The main knock over the past few seasons is he’s missed a little time with minor injuries, but he put up his best season yet in 2019 despite playing in just 122 games.
In reality, I would be surprised if the Astros are able to sign Springer to this deal. He could command more money in free agency and could also get a no-trade clause or opt out provisions. That doesn’t mean an extension isn’t possible, but I would expect him to command somewhere between $25 million and $30 million per year with some type of no-trade clause.
If the Astros let him hit free agency, they run the risk of losing him, and that would leave Kyle Tucker and Myles Straw as the only clear outfielders on the team. He’s one of the faces of the franchise and the offense’s spark plug. That’s why I extended him in the simulation and I hope the Astros will follow suit.