If the Houston Astros extend George Springer, it’s unlikely they’ll retain Michael Brantley.
With the news that the Houston Astros are hoping to sign star outfielder George Springer to a contract extension comes some ripple effects. One of those is that if the Astros are successful in extending Springer, they probably won’t be able to retain Michael Brantley.
The team already has more than $115 million in committed salary for 2021. That figure does not include salaries for arbitration-eligible players such as Lance McCullers Jr., Carlos Correa and Roberto Osuna. In fact, that $115 million comes from just seven players.
With that being said, the Astros probably do have the payroll space to extend Springer if they so choose. It would obviously be popular with the fans, and it would ensure that one of the team’s homegrown stars remains with the team for the majority of his career, if not the rest of it.
Not Room for Both
But a Springer extension would likely take up all the team’s remaining payroll space. It simply wouldn’t leave enough room for a new contract for Brantley, who’s also eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. Even with Josh Reddick‘s contract coming off the books, there probably isn’t room for both.
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Brantley is making $16 million annually in his current two-year deal with the Astros. He turns 33 on May 15, so a new contract would likely take him to age 35, at least. If he hits well in whatever 2020 season we have, it’s not likely he’ll settle for much of anything less than a repeat of his current contract.
He certainly earned his salary in 2019, hitting .311/.372/.503 with 40 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBIs. He’s such a good, pure hitter that it’s hard to envision him dropping off significantly this year or even next year. Brantley is the type of hitter who can continue to hit for a solid average as he ages, even if his power declines.
If the Astros and Springer somehow don’t come to terms, then perhaps the team could look at bringing Brantley back instead. Kyle Tucker could take over in right field with Myles Straw in center for 2021. There are definitely worse outfields to have.
Still, the best case scenario is that Springer returns, pushing Tucker to left. That would mean we bid farewell to Brantley, but unfortunately the team can’t afford everyone. Getting him here in the first place was a brilliant move by Jeff Luhnow, but there’s probably no chance he stays here beyond 2020 if the team pays up for Springer.