Could Adam Duvall be an option for the Houston Astros outfield vacancies?
It’s been a slow start to the offseason, as expected. The Houston Astros are in need of a pair of starting outfielders, as Kyle Tucker is the lone holdover from the 2020 team. There are some big names available, but could the recently non-tendered Adam Duvall be a potential option?
The Braves non-tendered Duvall on Wednesday rather than pay him somewhere north of $4 million through arbitration next year. The 32-year-old hit .237/.301/.532 with 16 home runs in 57 games for Atlanta in 2020 before suffering an oblique injury in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Despite being tied for third in the NL in home runs in the regular season, he finds himself a free agent.
Duvall tallied back-to-back 30-homer seasons for the Reds in 2016 and 2017, earning an All-Star nod in the first of those years. His performance cratered in a 2018 season that saw him get traded to Atlanta, but he rebounded to put up a .248/.307/.545 line with 26 homers in 98 games over the last two seasons.
Option for the Astros?
We all know George Springer is as good as gone, so the Astros will need a center fielder. Duvall doesn’t fit that bill, unfortunately, but they do have a corner outfield spot available as well. Re-signing Michael Brantley would be the preferred option to fill that opening, but if Uncle Mike goes elsewhere, Duvall could be an interesting fallback option.
He put up strong defensive numbers in left field from 2016 to 2018, totaling 45 defensive runs saved at the position. He’s graded out as an average defender the past two years, but he is still certainly capable of manning a corner spot. Duvall also has experience in right field and at first base, which helps his value.
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When it comes to offense, though, he’s largely a one-dimensional player. He doesn’t hit for a high average or walk particularly often, and he’ll rack up plenty of strikeouts. He also offers very little in the way of baserunning ability, so his main contribution is the long ball. But when he’s on, he can launch moonshots with the best of them.
The Astros wouldn’t need him to be a middle-of-the-order hitter anyway, so letting him hit sixth or seventh would work out fine. He would come relatively cheap, and he’d be under team control via arbitration through the 2022 season. If general manager James Click strikes out on the bigger names, betting on a good season from Duvall (roughly a .250 average, .300 on-base percentage with 30 bombs) wouldn’t be the worst way to go.
Let’s say the Astros sign Jackie Bradley Jr to play center field and Duvall to play left. Envision this lineup: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, Tucker, Yuli Gurriel, Duvall, Bradley, Martin Maldonado. That’s certainly not too shabby, and it would leave some payroll space to add a starting pitcher and a couple of solid bullpen pieces.
Again, Duvall would not and should not be the first option to play left field for Houston. But if Brantley, Marcell Ozuna and others are off the board, Duvall would certainly represent a solid option for the Astros to fill a spot in the lineup with someone who can make an impact.