Even though it shouldn’t have, Michael Brantley signing with the Houston Astros has managed to fly under the radar.
The three-time all star has been a model of consistency when healthy and one of baseball’s toughest bats to strike out. Couple that with his ability to find gaps when not finding the bleachers and his bat is a welcome addition to the outfield. He also seems to be the inevitable replacement to Marwin Gonzalez in the lineup.
It’s a good signing for the Astros, but they have a lot of outfielders now. After the all star duo of George Springer and Brantley, the Astros still employ the steady glove of Josh Reddick, Tony Kemp, Derek Fisher, Jake Marisnick, and Kyle Tucker. Tucker is the Astros top positional prospect and #2 in their system. Seems like their is quite the roadblock for Tucker to be getting the regular at bats he’ll need to develop. Why would the Astros sign Brantley and block their up and coming star? Their biggest need going into the offseason was catcher anyway…
The #Astros are back in the mix for #Marlins J.T. Realmuto. Top prospect Kyle Tucker remains a target for a potential deal. The #Padres also have interest, along with #Dodgers #Rays and more. Hard to say if there is a frontrunner at this point. Multiple teams involved.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) December 18, 2018
With the outfield loaded up, it makes dealing your No. 2 prospect, who happens to be an outfielder, a hell of a lot easier. Realmuto was an all star and a silver slugger in Miami last year and he’s the last piece of the old Marlins core that retains value. While most project Tucker to be an all star, we all know that Realmuto is an all star. While stars like Gary Sanchez and Salvador Perez had down years at the position, Realmuto maintained his steady trend upward, and a move into hitter friendly ballpark and a contender can only enhance his value.
The Marlins have been demanding a lot out of teams in trade talks this offseason. The names of Michael Conforto of the Mets and Miguel Andujar of the Yankees have been the rumored targets of Marlins brass who supposedly want an MLB ready bat when negotiating a deal. Obviously, No one has been able to pull the trigger with such outrageous demands, but if the Marlins are hot on Tucker, then this trade seems inevitable. Miami would get their MLB ready bat and the Astros could improve that catcher’s slot on the roster.
I think this deal could highlight where the Astros think they are as an organization. Signing a veteran all star to two year deal so that they can trade their best young bat for a catcher that is a free agent in 2021 tells me Houston might just see a window starting to close, and they’re going to get as much out of it as they can.
Photo: Talking Chop