This post was inspired by good friend of the blog – Sarge H.
Here is a question to gnaw on for the next post season based on there actually being a 2020 season.
What will the Astros outfield look like in 2021?
The three men who started the most games in the outfield for the Astros in 2019 are all free agents after the coming season. Michael Brantley made his third All-Star team in a row with a sparkling .311 BA/ .875 OPS / 88 runs / 22 HR / 90 RBI season. George Springer frankly was on a pace for MVP contention with a .292 BA / .975 OPS / 96 runs / 39 HRs / 96 RBIs season in only 122 games with injuries cutting into that run. Josh Reddick had a very ineffective season (possibly due to a shoulder that required surgery) where it is hard to recall his 57 runs scored or his 56 RBIs. In 2020 the three are making $21 MM (Springer), $16 MM (Brantley) and $13 MM (Reddick) with Springer likely lined up for a huge payday in 2021, Brantley probably dropping a bit due to age and Reddick scraping around for a spot in the majors (unless he turns it around in 2020).
So what will the outfield look like in 2021? Well, it is highly unlikely they will pursue Reddick in the off-season and in fact may try mightily to trade him during the season when it starts back up. Brantley will be getting to an age where they are not likely to chase him unless he is willing to take a discount contract.
Springer is the interesting one here. Under the Luhnow regime they would likely have chased him but ultimately would have lost out. The question here is whether Jim Crane will step in with the new GM James Click and make a PR rather than Moneyball type decision to hold onto someone the fans want so badly to be a career Astro.
Those waiting in the wings for a spot include the following:
- Kyle Tucker. The youngster, who has been a high prospect for a number of years would seem to be a shoo-in to displace Josh Reddick in the outfield and one of the “three” come 2021. He looked completely lost in a 2018 call-up, but showed well in his 2019 call-up (22 games – .269 BA/ .857 OPS/ 15 runs/ 4 HRs/ 11 RBIs/ 5 SBs). He could be one of the three when 2020 starts, much less in 2021.
- Myles Straw. In 2020 he will likely fill the 4th OF spot that new Met Jake Marisnick has filled for a number of years. If he can continue the .380 on base percentage he has shown to date, along with tremendous base running and outfield coverage, he might move into the top three spots in 2021.
- Yordan Alvarez. This one seems tied to whether Yordan ever recovers from knee maladies that do not bode well in a person his age. We know after his Rookie of the year performance in only 87 games in 2019 (.313 BA/ .412 OBP/ 1.067 OPS/ 58 runs/ 27 RBIs/ 78 RBIs) that he certainly has the bat to fill an OF spot. They may not even chance playing him in the field and let him be the Big Papi of the next decade for the team.
- Abraham Toro / Aledmys Diaz. Both players may see some outfield time heading forward, but will they get beyond the point of being the next Swiss Army knife for this team? Not likely, but perhaps one could be like Marwin Gonzalez and fill an OF spot for a couple seasons.
- Chas McCormick. One of the top 30 prospects, though admittedly one of the older ones (24 y.o.), he has hit well with below-average power in his journey up to AAA. He showed a bit more power in 2019, but he will need to do a lot more in 2020 to be in line for a spot in the bigs in 2021.
- Taylor Jones. He certainly has played more 1B than the outfield and maybe in line to take Yuli Gurriel‘s spot when and if he moves on, but a lot can change between now and the 2021 season. The team likes his quick, short swing (unusual for someone 6’-7″) and his improved power. Stranger things have happened.
- Pedro Leon. If, there are international signings this season and if the Astros are able to sign the Cuban phenom and if he instantly shows he belongs…..oh never mind.
- Player To Be Named Later. If the Astros lose the current three starting OFs – that would leave them with (hypothetically) $50 MM to spend on new OFs. Hah – OK they will more likely move that to other areas, but could use a chunk of it to bring in another solid OF.
So, if I’m betting money I think the opening outfield in 2021 will be Springer, Tucker and Straw. If I were you, I would not bet based on that statement…
Anyway, what do y’all think?