On Wednesday morning, it was reported that Michael Brantley was signing a three-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Those reports were quickly shut down and by Wednesday afternoon, he was re-signing with the Houston Astros on a two-year, $32 million deal, pending physical, as first reported by Mark Berman of Fox 26.
It is the same terms of Brantley’s last contract with the Astros, and it is a critical addition for an outfield in desperate need of talent. The team had only one starter – Kyle Tucker – and just lost George Springer to the Blue Jays on a six-year, $150 million deal. Bringing back Brantley adds another much-needed bat to the lineup and puts the Astros in a stronger position to compete in 2021.
Brantley, 33, slashed .300/.364/.476 over 187 plate appearances last season, including five home runs and 22 RBI. There had been speculation for most of the offseason that Brantley would not return to Houston, with increasing buzz that he would want to join Springer in Toronto, but general manager James Click closed the deal.
Astros players Lance McCullers Jr., Carlos Correa and Martin Maldonado tweeted their support for the move. But while Brantley fills a need in the outfield and designated hitter, the Astros are likely just getting started with their big spending.
They are still seeking a closer and another outfielder and remain interested in free-agent reliever Brad Hand, among others. The team will likely pursue a center field type to replace Springer, and could turn its attention to Jackie Bradley Jr.
But the first step for the Astros was to re-sign Brantley and bringing him back opens the door for many other possibilities. The two-year, $32 million pact does not impact their financial flexibility in the short or long-term, meaning that this could be the beginning of a flurry of moves to keep the team in contention.