The Houston Astros are likely to lose George Springer in free agency. Could they pursue Kevin Kiermaier to be his replacement?
The Houston Astros main focus is to replace the hole in the leadoff spot and in center field with the loss of All-Star George Springer. With there being a slim to none chance of him returning, the Astros will have to look to free agency or to a trade, and Bob Nightengale reported that Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier is now on the trade block following the Blake Snell trade.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t an outfielder on the market like Springer, but the Astros haven’t been active this offseason. Reports have pointed to former Rex Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., but nothing has advanced. The Astros are two months from Spring Training, and if they do not make a big move for an All-Star outfielder like JBJ, they could trade for Kiermaier. The Rays center fielder is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, but has been a little below average at the plate in his career. He has a beautiful swing, but he lacks a dominant plate approach. If he was a player who walked more, he would be a perfect leadoff hitter with his speed on the base paths.
While the Rays are looking to rebuild, the Astros would have to give up prospects in return. But the farm system of Houston is starting to diminish and as 2021 looks to be the last season for Houston to compete if they do not extend major contracts, the team should not blow up their system even more. Kiermaier has a better glove in recent years than that of Springer, but he costs up to $13 million a year. The Astros have made deals to acquire big contracts such as Zack Greinke, but that also included a significant haul of prospects.
If James Click can’t reel in JBJ, Kiermaier could be a strong trade target. And considering the two were together in Tampa Bay, it is possible he is someone Click pursues.