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2021 MLB Signings: Brantley Stays in Houston

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In the latest of the 2021 MLB signings, the Houston Astros have brought back their former left-fielder, with Michael Brantley signing a two-year, $36 million dollar contract to stay with the team.

Originally, Michael Brantley appeared to be signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, as reported earlier this morning, but it never became official. Instead, Brantley will be returning to Houston, where he spent the past two seasons. Michael Brantley signing his second straight two-year, $32 million dollar contract with the Astros is huge for the team, as now they only have to worry about replacing one outfielder.

2021 MLB Signings Houston’s Side in the Brantley Deal

For Houston, bringing back a top-of-the-lineup bat is huge, especially after losing their leadoff hitter, George Springer, who signed a six-year deal with Toronto last night. The Michael Brantley signing practically guarantees a 125-135 wRC+ bat in their lineup. Brantley will probably be Dusty Baker’s everyday left-fielder in 2021, where he has a 21 DRS, 4.1 UZR, and -9 OAA since 2017.

Following the announcement that George Springer had also made the 2021 MLB signings news when he inked a deal with Toronto, the Astros made their move by bringing Brantley back. Known as a “professional hitter,” Brantley keeps his K% low while maintaining a high OBP. Since 2018, Brantley has a 10.6 K% and .368 OBP, while putting up a 129 wRC+ and 9.0 fWAR in 1455 PAs.

The Houston Astros exceeding expectations in the 2020 playoffs, especially after a 29-31 regular season, where they only made the playoffs due to the playoff expansion to 16 teams. In the 2020 playoffs, Brantley had a 174 wRC+ and was a very reliable bat in the middle of the Astros’ order. The 2021 Houston Astros will have an opportunity to make their 5th straight postseason appearance and 6th in seven years.

2021 MLB Signings: Brantley’s Side

For Brantley, this deal makes sense as he’ll be joining a team looking to make another playoff run. He chose the two-year contract at $32 million instead of the three-year deal that he reportedly agreed to with the Toronto Blue Jays, where his position would be less certain. In Houston, the left-field position will be his, with Kyle Tucker in right and Yordan Alvarez as the DH.

At 33, Brantley has shown no signs of slowing down, as he had his best season at the plate since 2014. In his two seasons in Houston, he has a 134 wRC+, .366 wOBA, .370 OBP, 27 HRs, and 5.5 WAR in 194 games. Also, Brantley had a Hard Hit % of 37.3% in 2019 and 2020, with an xwOBA at .365 in 2019 and .314 in 2020.

Overall, the signing should work out well for both sides, as it did in December 2018. With him, the Houston Astros made their second World Series appearance in 2019, as Brantley had a solid postseason. At $16M a year, the deal isn’t bank-breaking and leaves room for the Astros to add some pitching depth or another outfielder.

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