Astros News: Team hopes to extend outfielder George Springer

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros looks on prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park on March 10, 2020 in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
NORTH PORT, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros looks on prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park on March 10, 2020 in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros are hoping to sign star George Springer to an extension.

There hasn’t been much chatter lately about whether the Houston Astros will attempt to sign outfielder George Springer to an extension, but we’ve got some chatter now. The Houston Chronicle is reporting the team hopes to sign its star to an extension before he reaches free agency following the 2020 season.

Specifically, Chandler Rome notes that when owner Jim Crane was running the baseball operations department, he made it clear to Springer’s camp that the team is interested in keeping him around for the long haul. The fact that Crane signed him to a one-year deal for $21 million rather than going to arbitration shows he was making an attempt to show some good faith and generate good will between the two sides.

There hasn’t been any progress on that front thanks to the fact that extension talks are not allowed while MLB is in a Coronavirus-induced transaction freeze. But assuming new GM James Click is in agreement with Crane, the two sides could begin discussing an extension once action gets back underway and the freeze is lifted.

The Need

We recently examined the team’s outfield situation for 2021, which looks uncertain at best. Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are all set to reach free agency after this season, leaving Kyle Tucker and perhaps Myles Straw as the main holdovers.

The team has more than $115 million in committed salary on the books for 2021, plus the increased salaries for arbitration-eligible players such as Roberto Osuna, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. Still, there’s probably room for a Springer extension in the budget, but there’s not room for much else.

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Losing Springer would be a serious blow to the Astros offense. They can weather the loss of Brantley, and Reddick hasn’t been good with the bat for two years. But Springer is a catalyst and part of the team’s core along with Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Keeping him in Houston would go a long way toward keeping the team competitive.

What Would It Look Like?

Springer will turn 31 in September, so the biggest sticking point between the two sides will probably be the length of the extension. The Astros would likely be comfortable going four or five years on the deal, but Springer could want six or seven. The team will be fine paying him top dollar through his mid-30s, but probably not into his late 30s.

The annual value of the deal will likely be more than the $21 million he’s set to make in 2020 (or the pro-rated amount depending on how salaries are worked out). Given his age, Springer probably won’t get $30 million a year, but $25 million per year seems well within reach.

If the Astros could sign Springer to a six-year extension at a total of $150 million, that would pay him an average of $25 million per year though his age-36 season. That’s certainly palatable, but my guess would be he might get a little bit more than that, maybe around $27 million in terms of average annual value.

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If the Astros let Springer reach free agency, he’ll be able to command that kind of money and maybe even more from another team. Losing him wouldn’t be a death knell, but it would severely hamper the team in the future. Crane knows this, and it’s a good sign that the team wants to keep him in Houston for several more years.

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