Unless you are truly quarantining yourself and have tuned out all social media, fake media, real media, TV, radios, signs, and smoke signals you realize that there will be a big election in about a week and a half in the Un-united States. But as usual this blog is here to take your mind off those matters and into things that are vital to all Americans…..baseball.
After a crazy ending to Game 4 of the World Series that was triggered by a hit by former Astro farmhand, Brett Phillips against a former World Series foe of the Astros, Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers and Rays will play at least two more games and possibly three. This means the season will either end on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Why is that important? Well, it means that the day after the season ends certain machinations regarding free agency begin and that triggers certain actions or inactions by your local team, the Astros.
So What’s happening in the short term? Well let’s assume that October 29th is the beginning of the off-season.
Thursday, Oct. 29. Players not under contract or control become Free Agents
For the Astros, this is a list that is headed by two players, who will be huge losses if they move on, in OF George Springer and OF/DH Michael Brantley. Beyond those two the list includes OF Josh Reddick, and P Brad Peacock. Pitcher Joe Biagini was unsurprisingly granted free agency earlier this month. From one view it is not a long list, but the fact that it contains the sometimes whole starting outfield (or 2 OFs and a DH) from this season’s team grabs one’s attention.
Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. Teams have an exclusive window to negotiate with their own free agents. Someone like Springer, who has never hit free agency is likely to want to hear what his worth is around the league, but as a touchstone may be interested in what the Astros think his starting value is. Someone like the 33 y.o. Brantley will likely not get offered in the free agent market what his stats say he’s worth due to his age. If he’s comfortable in Houston, he might want to stay, though he likely will see if the team will want to make a qualifying offer (more on that later). Due to his declining performance, Josh Reddick will definitely listen to the Astros, but they may not be talking or they may state numbers he deems too small to accept. Any discussions with Peacock will take into account how injured he is after barely taking the mound before breaking down this year. The guess here is they will let Brad go.
Nov. 2 or so. Teams have to announce which of their free agents they will proffer a qualifying offer. The QO is expected to be about $18.9 MM and means two things. One, if a player accepts it, the team must pay them that amount for the 2021 season (unless they subsequently negotiate a different contract). Two, it means that if the player is eventually signed by another team, before the 2021 June draft, that the other team will owe the Astros a compensatory draft pick in that draft, the round based on the value placed on that player by the league’s rules. Reddick and Peacock will not receive QOs. Springer will absolutely receive a QO that he will not take. Brantley is the bigger decision for the Astros. He has been great during his current contract of 2 years/$32 MM and based on how he has played and hit, he would certainly be worth the QO in a normal climate. But the Astros may not want to tie that much up with him when they have so much tied up in Justin Verlander ($33 MM), who will not pitch for them next season. So, the best guess is the Astros will try to sign Brantley this off-season, but will not offer him the QO.
Those are a couple important happenings in the next week that may well be overshadowed by the election. But for the Astros this is the start of what may well be an eventful off-season.