The Houston Astros are looking to add depth to their outfield and may have found their guy.
Even with big names like A.J. Pollock and Bryce Harper available, the Astros are thinking more strategically with their interests and are reportedly in the mix for three-time All-Star Michael Brantley.
Sources: #Astros interested in free agent Michael Brantley. They would like to add a left-handed bat but are somewhat wary of blocking 21-year-old outfield prospect Kyle Tucker for the long term. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 11, 2018
From 2016 to 2017, Brantley looked like he might pan out like fellow Indians' outfielder Grady Sizemore, as a slew of injuries suppressed his talent, but his bounce-back 2018 season shut all of that talk down.
Last season, Brantley hit .309 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI, while also swiping 12 bases, proving that his injuries are a thing of the past and he can still play at a high level.
Despite those numbers, he has not garnered much interest this offseason, and has even expressed willingness to play first base if it will help him sign with a team. This show of desperation plays right into the Astros' hands, as they will not want to commit many years to Brantley with top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Michael Brantley fits really well with the Astros. There was some talk of him playing a little first base in the future, and there is more PT available in the OF than people seem to think, even if Tucker seizes a job.— Spencer Morris (@spencer_711) December 11, 2018
Brantley would make an excellent stop-gap for Tucker, as he is more than capable of helping out Houston's offense and could even prove to be a valuable trade chip once Tucker is ready.
I think Houston is being smart with this potential move. It's low risk with a very high upside if Brantley can replicate his production from last year.