The Major League Baseball season hasn’t even begun, yet there are only a few short months before free agency begins. This 60 game MLB season is accelerating important offseason decisions for teams, and the Houston Astros have some big decisions ahead. The 2021 Astros free agency class consists of five important players, headlined by outfielder George Springer.
Trio Of Outfielders Lead Astros Free Agency
It isn’t common to have three starting outfielders become free agents all at once, but that is the issue the Astros will face. Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick will all be free agents after this shortened season.
The most important, but perhaps the hardest to retain, is Springer. The three-time All-Star has been an integral piece of the Astros lineup over the past few seasons. When he’s in the lineup, there are few who can impact a game to the level Springer does.
The biggest question mark regarding the superstar, has been his ability to stay in the lineup. Over the past three seasons, the 2017 World Series MVP has spent time on the injured list for a variety of reasons, missing 84 games in the last three seasons.
This will be the Astros biggest dilemma. The soon-to-be 31 year old outfielder will assuredly want a big sum on the free agent market. A 60-game schedule might keep Springer from showing Houston he can stay healthy over the course of a full season. At the end of the day, Springer will hit a big payday, but it may not be with the Astros.
While not quite at the level of Springer, Michael Brantley has provided a lot of value in the outfield for the Astros. In his first season with Houston, Brantley hit .311 while while driving in 90 runs. The left fielder is approaching his mid-30’s, but he has shown no signs of slowing down in the batters box.
After back-to-back healthy seasons, he has also seemingly shed the injury-prone label that followed him as a Cleveland Indian. As long as Brantley stays healthy over 60 games this year, the Astros might make a strong effort to re-sign the outfielder. The opportunity to get him at a cheaper price than Springer might also strengthen these efforts.
The third and final free agent outfielder is Josh Reddick. Reddick has been a solid contributor for the Astros over the past three seasons with a .279 average and a .765 OPS. Despite being a good player, he has not played at an All-Star caliber. Therefore, he probably won’t be the organization’s main priority in the offseason.
The final two Astros free agents are infielder Yuli Gurriel and pitcher Brad Peacock. Gurriel has primarily been a first-baseman, but has logged time at second and third over the past few seasons. This shortened season could effect the chances he is resigned for one reason: age. Despite having his best season in 2019, at 35, Gurriel will turn 37 in 2021. MLB teams are quick to discard older players in this modern era. If Gurriel has a rough season, he could find himself looking for a new team in the offseason.
As far as pitchers go, Peacock is very versatile. Peacock has started 83 games and appeared out of the bullpen 95 times in his career. This season is crucial for Peacock, because the Astros have young pitching on the way in Forrest Whitley, Cristian Javier, among others. These young pitching prospects figure to fill out the bullpen and bottom of the rotation for the Astros. Peacock must have a great 60 game stretch for Houston to make a concerted effort to bring the veteran back.
These 60 upcoming games will have enormous impact on the offseason decisions of front offices across the league. The Houston Astros will have plenty of free agent decisions to make in just a few short months.
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