If the 2020 MLB season doesn’t happen, there are five Houston Astros players who could be moving on.
With so much uncertainty thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no guarantee that there will even be a 2020 MLB season. In that worst case scenario, there are five Houston Astros players who would reach free agency without playing another game.
MLB and the MLBPA came to an agreement that MLB players would be credited with service time for the 2020 season, regardless of whether there are any games played. This would be particularly bad for teams who made big trades for impending free agents this offseason, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring outfielder Mookie Betts.
Thankfully the Astros don’t have that type of problem, but there are some key players from the past few seasons who could opt to leave for greener pastures. If they do, and there is no 2020 season, their Astros careers are effectively done.
The Fab Five
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The most important player to the team who’s in this category is George Springer. One would think the Astros would at least make an attempt to re-sign him, but who knows how far they’ll be willing to go? He will turn 31 in September, so any free agent deal will take him at least through his mid-30s, which is always a risky proposition when you’re committing top dollar for someone.
Michael Brantley is also set for free agency, as his two-year, $32 million deal will expire after this season. It’s been an excellent signing for the Astros so far, as he turned in 4.8 WAR on the strength of a .311/.372/.503 line with 40 doubles, 90 RBIs and a career-high 22 homers. He will turn 33 in May, though, which might scare the club away from giving him a multi-year deal.
Josh Reddick‘s four-year, $52 million deal will expire after this season as well. He was excellent in 2017 as he hit .314 and helped the Astros to their first World Series championship. His bat has cooled off in the past two seasons, though, and he will probably be done in Houston once this year is over.
Yuli Gurriel broke out in a big way in 2019, hitting career highs in homers (31) and RBIs (104). He’s also turned into a solid defender at first base, but he will turn 36 in June. First baseman Taylor Jones may be waiting in the wings, so this could be Gurriel’s final year in Houston as well.
Last but not least is pitcher Brad Peacock. The right-hander recently turned 32 and is coming off a season in which he missed significant time with injuries. He could really use a healthy season to build value heading into free agency, so he could be most hurt by a lost 2020. In that scenario, the club could probably bring him back on a one-year, incentive-laden deal if it wanted to, and the extra depth couldn’t hurt.
Unfortunately we don’t know anything for certain and probably won’t for weeks. All we can do is hope there is some semblance of a 2020 MLB season so we get another chance to see these great players in action for the Astros.