Michael Brantley re-signs with Astros
The reigning champs just got quite a bump in their lineup. "The professional hitter" is back in H-Town.
Robert Murray of Fansided reports that Michal Brantley and the Astros are in contract talks, with Ken Rosenthal confirming Houston and the free agent outfielder agreed on a one-year, $12 million deal. Bringing Uncle Mike back fills what had been a void in the Astros lineup, as they desparately needed a left-handed hitting outfielder.
Brantley has been a stalwart in his time in Astros' orange, hitting .306 with an .832 OPS across his four seasons. Until injury befell his 2022 season, Uncle Mike was putting together an unbelievable season. Across 64 games, he was hitting .288 with a .785 OPS, but had an xBA of .310 and was punishing baseballs into the shift. His 89.8 mph average exit velocity was the second highest of his career, while he posted the highest barrel percentage of his career.
If Brantley is back healthy, he will put up obscene numbers in this lineup without a shift to rob hits.
Questions loomed about Brantley's health coming off of a second shoulder injury, but if he is in fact 100%, $12 million is a steal for a hitter of his caliber. That said, it is likely we see a role reversal of what has played out the last three years.
Brantley debuted with Houston in 2019, as did Yordan Alvarez. When both have been healthy, Brantley has predominately played left field while Alvarez mostly played designated hitter. It is expected that Alvarez will play 65-70% of the time in left this year, while the aging Brantley takes most of his at-bats from the DH spot.
The Astros still have room for another splash or two. General Manager under contract or not, the Astros have crushed this offseason. Adding Brantley and Jose Abreu to a lineup that just won the World Series feels laughably unfair.
Then again, so do six straight trips to the ALCS and four pennants in six years. But hey, life isn't fair--though it sure is sweet in The H. Welcome back Uncle Mike!