After two strong, productive years with the Houston Astros, Michael Brantley is back on the free-agent market. Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005, Brantley was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2008 to be named later from the CC Sabathia deal. In 10 seasons with Cleveland, the Silver Slugger established himself as a four-time All-Star.
There’s a lot to like about the outfielder, as he’s hit .300 or better in each of the last three seasons. He’s a quiet leader in the clubhouse who is a mentor for his younger teammates. A player like Michael Brantley can hit 15-20 home runs per season. What’s even more impressive is that he’s an established hitter with a career 90.9 contact rate. Despite being in his 30’s, Brantley will likely spend time at DH, with some playing time in the outfield. He currently holds appeal to some AL teams.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to add more pieces to their young core. One area Toronto needs to examine this offseason is their outfield. A player like Brantley would be a welcoming fit as his veteran presence would make for great mentorship to Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and others.
After an injury-plagued 2016 season, the 33-year old is an established hitter coming off three straight All-Star seasons from 2017 to 2019. His versatility is an asset as he split time between left field and DH, but he offers defense in left field. Though he might not be a long-term answer up the middle, left field and DH would be ideal for Brantley. His experience, bat, and history with Mark Shaprio would be a great addition to a Blue Jays team who’ll be fun to watch for years to come.
Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox fans are familiar with Brantley. He did spend most of his career crushing the South Siders with the division-rival Indians. Chicago is well past its rebuild phase, and signing Brantley seems like an ideal fit. In the past two seasons, a healthy Brantley was productive with a .309/.370/.497 slash line in 194 games. With back-t0-back ALCS appearances, Brantley is a terrific postseason hitter, batting .311/.391/.426 in 31 career playoff games.
The question is, where would the outfielder fit with Chicago? It would be intriguing to shift him to right field, an option the team lacks. Brantley has little experience in right field, only logging nine games in his 12-year career. That would mean sticking him in the DH role.
Another option would be to give Brantley playing time in the outfield. The White Sox could rotate him from the DH role when Luis Robert or Eloy Jiménez has a day off. If Brantley decides to sign with the White Sox, it’ll be a much needed left-handed bat in the lineup. Plus, he could spend the next two-to-three seasons tormenting his old club.
When Houston signed Brantley to a two-year, $32 million contract, he gave them two consistent seasons. Given his age and ability, Michael Brantley is likely to be the Astros most-of-the-time DH if he re-signs with the team. Houston is trying to negotiate a new contract with the free agent, and according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, there’s mutual interest in a reunion.
However, both George Springer and Josh Reddick are also on the open market. It’s a possibility that Houston could lose their entire outfield to free agency this winter. If one of those players return, then the Astros have Yordan Álvarez to serve as the DH, who will be coming off dual knee surgery over the summer.
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