Your Climbing Tal’s Hill writers predict Houston Astros outfielder George Springer’s next destination.
If you haven’t already been inundated with speculation about George Springer‘s trip through free agency, here’s some more for you. The Astros star could be wearing a new uniform next season, and that storyline will continue to dominate the Houston baseball landscape until he puts pen to paper.
The latest rumblings indicate Springer does not particularly want to return to Houston, as he apparently has a desire to play closer to home (he hails from Connecticut). But with all the financial uncertainty around the league thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one is entirely certain how the free agent market will play out this winter.
Still, in all likelihood, the very top tier of free agents will do alright, and Springer is arguably the best available. Teams with a need in the outfield and enough payroll space to accommodate him will surely have some level of interest. With that in mind, here’s how three of your Climbing Tal’s Hill writers think Springer’s free agency will play out.
I recently discussed the five teams I think are likely to get involved in the Springer sweepstakes, and there certainly could be others as well. One even has to wonder if the Tigers would get involved now that AJ Hinch is their manager. There’s always the threat of the dreaded mystery team as well, but to me, three teams stand above the rest right now.
Springer’s ideal destination would probably be Boston, as it’s closest to his Connecticut roots. Jackie Bradley Jr. is a free agent, but the Red Sox are desperately in need of pitching. One has to wonder if former Rays boss Chaim Bloom would want to break the bank for Springer. With Steve Cohen now in charge of the Mets, they’ll probably finally start to spend like a big market franchise. The geography would work for Springer, and Cohen may want his front office to make a big splash to energize the fan base. But that team has plenty of needs.
To me, the best fit is in Atlanta. It may not be particularly close to home for Springer, but it’s closer than Houston, and the situation is ideal. The Braves came agonizingly close to winning a pennant in 2020 and are poised to contend for several years with their strong young core. They also have a clear need for Springer with Marcell Ozuna and Nick Markakis both free agents, and they have the money. It just makes too much sense to pick any other team.
PREDICTION: Braves — six years, $150 million
Kenny Van Doren
The Astros are hit with a huge issue. Springer, Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley are all free agents. The whole starting outfield since 2018 could all be gone in the next few weeks. The most valuable player of the three is Springer, and in my opinion, I do not see the former World Series MVP returning.
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The recent buzz has been that Springer does not want to return to Houston, but here is what could happen. The Astros could offer Springer all the money he wants, but this forfeits the chances of bringing back another All-Star outfielder in Brantley and a Gold Glover in Reddick, though I think it is time to move on from Reddick. He has had his time and has been a fan favorite to some.
While also locking in Springer, this could lead to issues in re-signing or extending current players. The one that stands out is Carlos Correa, who made the prorated portion of $8 million in 2020. If the Astros somehow find the right check, then dealing players will be in the future.
The best place for Springer to end up will probably be an NL East team or the Boston Red Sox. After narrowing it down to the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, it seems like the best fit for the three-time All-Star is to chase a title while making bank. The best fit has to be the Braves.
The 31-year-old could finish his career in the A with young stars in Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies, and a young pitching core along with possibly the 2020 NL MVP, Freddie Freeman. Although this might be his best fit, the other three teams have been clearing space to sign big players for the future along with the Mets’ new owner, Steve Cohen.
PREDICTION: Braves — five years, $120 million
Springer is going into free agency looking to get paid, and it’s more than likely that it won’t be Jim Crane signing the check. Earlier this week, rumors leaked out that Springer had no interest in re-signing with the team that drafted him in 2011 and that failed to extend him prior to last season. It’s hard for me to imagine Springer wearing a different uniform, but it might be best for him to get a fresh start and get away from Astro-hate.
On a baseball perspective, Springer is the best free agent bat available (other than maybe JT Realmuto), is a top-notch defensive glove, and at 31 years old should still be in his prime. I was initially thinking that he might follow AJ Hinch if he went to the White Sox, but I guess they aren’t interested in bringing in a great manager who is ten months removed from a cheating scandal (really, Chicago White Sox — Tony La Russa?)
Springer deserves to get paid like the All-Star he is and will likely seek a long-term deal from anyone willing to pony up. Despite all the rumors floating around about the Nationals or his hometown Boston Red Sox (he’s actually from Connecticut, but close enough), I think this projection is rather easy. Steve Cohen just bought the Mets and needs to make a splash that will reinvigorate their fan base, while also improving the team’s production, defensively and at the plate. Our guy checks those boxes. Good luck in the Big Apple, buddy; this Astros fan will miss you.
PREDICTION: Mets — six years, $137 million