The New York Yankees can be added to a suddenly growing list of teams pursuing Houston Astros free agent Michael Brantley.
Suddenly, the Houston Astros are facing strong competition for outfielder Michael Brantley. The Toronto Blue Jays have been connected to him and are believed to be a primary suitor. Now, reports are emerging that another contending American League team has entered the sweepstakes.
The New York Yankees have been in recent contact with Brantley, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Brantley, 33, is a four-time All-Star and been one of the most underrated outfielders in baseball. He slashed .300/.364/.476 in 187 plate appearances in 2020. In his 12-year career, he has slashed .297/.354/.440 with 114 home runs and 640 RBI with the Astros and Cleveland Indians.
With teams placing a priority on cheap assets, Brantley could become a coveted player in free agency. While MLB Trade Rumors projects him to land a two-year, $28 million deal, he is not attached to the qualifying offer, meaning any team that signs him would not have to part with a draft pick to do so.
It could mean that teams might prefer to sign Brantley over George Springer, even though Springer is the superior player. Even then, it is hard to see how the Yankees make sense for Brantley. He is primarily a left fielder and the Yankees have Clint Frazier locked at the position long-term. The other possibility would be designated hitter, but Giancarlo Stanton has the spot secured and his contract and no-trade clause make him an almost impossible player to move.
So, while the Yankees will have the money to secure Brantley, a deal appears unlikely at best. His market, of course, contains more than just the Yankees, Astros, and Blue Jays. A player of his caliber will draw widespread interest throughout baseball and could ultimately lead to him beating his $28 million projection.
The offensive free-agent market remains at a standstill until George Springer and J.T. Realmuto come off the board, so Brantley does not figure to sign anytime soon. But the apparent strong interest from top contending teams, especially the suddenly aggressive Blue Jays, should have general manager James Click slightly worried about his chances of retaining Brantley.