The Houston Astros are destined to lose star free-agent outfielder George Springer, and two teams have been established as the favorites.
The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets are the favorites to sign free-agent outfielder George Springer, major-league executives tell Jeff Passan of ESPN.
It has been obvious from the start that Springer will not return to Houston. The contract he will command, along with the Astros dealing with financial constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has all but taken them out of the running for his services. The only way he could seemingly stay in Houston is by taking a pay cut, and there has been no indication that he is willing to do so.
The Mets and Blue Jays establishing themselves as the frontrunners for Springer is not a shock. After all, both teams have indicated a willingness to spend, with each franchise being among the most aggressive teams this winter. And both teams have a clear need for Springer, as both are searching for a franchise altering player.
Springer fits the bill. The Mets have long needed a center fielder and would provide a right-handed bat in a left-handed heavy lineup. The Blue Jays have Randal Grichuk in center field, though Springer would immediately slot into the position as he has established himself as one of the best outfielders in baseball.
There are no signs, however, that Springer is close to signing. His agent, Casey Close, is likely to take this into January with the market moving so slowly across the board. And with the Blue Jays and Mets both involved, it is likely he will see a contract worth well over $100 million.
The Astros have already braced for Springer’s absence, as evidenced by general manager James Click’s recent comments, and are involved in the markets for free-agent outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Michael Brantley, among others. Neither player is of the caliber of Springer and with Houston needing to replace their entire outfield, the front office will have its work cut out trying to come close to replicating their previous outfield production.
And with each passing day, their already slim odds of having Springer in that outfield continue to dwindle.