Michael Brantley is the Astro that the Red Sox should target
As we await the start of Game 6 of the World Series this evening, we must begin looking towards the offseason. If the Dodgers can seal the deal tonight and put away the Rays, then the clock begins to tick towards free agency and the 2021 season. For the Red Sox, that means spending some money on pitching and probably a position player or two, as well as, finding a new manager to helm the ship.
For much of the 2020 season, we’ve heard about the impending free agency status of two players, Jackie Bradley Jr. and George Springer. I’m not going to bring up Mookie Betts beyond this blurb because it was clear from the second he got to Los Angeles that he wasn’t leaving. JBJ has been the glue of the Boston outfield but rarely gets the love of a Betts or Andrew Benintendi outside of a great play. And for Springer, he’s the shiny toy that everyone wants to get their hands on this holiday season.
But there’s another name hitting free agency that everyone is looking past and he’s a teammate of Springer, Michael Brantley. For me, if Jackie is going to go elsewhere, and based on how he’s been treated in Boston during his tenure I wouldn’t blame him, Brantley is my guy. Some of you reading this may think this is a ridiculous thought but hear me out and let me explain.
We all know how good Springer is, and what JBJ can do when everything is clicking on a nightly basis. But Brantley isn’t far behind the duo and can be more in Chaim Bloom’s wheelhouse as his salary will be far closer to Bradley’s than Springer’s. Before the pandemic shook the money boat in 2020 Jackie was set to make $11M, Springer $21M, and Brantley $16M. As he’s the oldest of the trio, Bloom may be able to get Brantley’s AAV a little more friendly on the budget front by lowering the overall dollar amount and spreading it out over a few years.
This isn’t all about money though, granted that’s pretty much all that the Red Sox have cared about over the last year or so. Defensively, all three are fall in the top of the league and were perfect this past season in the field. So Boston wouldn’t be taking a serious hit if they decided to go with Brantley in the outfield over Springer or bringing back JBJ. Things really get interesting when you look at what each can do in the batter’s box.
It’s hard to take 2020 as a true test of quality but as it’s our most recent sample size I’m going to include it, as well as, what each of the three did back in 2019. This way we have a full season under the microscope as well as the wild dash to October that was this most recent campaign. With that all said, let’s see what each of our three outfielders did in their most recent years with 2020 listed first and 2019 below.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.: .283/.364/.450/.814/7/22
- George Springer: .265/.359/.540/.899/14/32
- Michael Brantley: .300/.364/.476/.840/5/22
Alright, with the numbers laid out right in front of our eyes we’ve got some things to analyze and parse out here. Again, 2020 was a wild mess and with it being such a short season, it’s no surprise that JBJ did so well, he didn’t have time to have his trademark cold spell. For Brantley, it was another year of the same proving his consistency on the offensive side of the game. Springer, on the other hand, saw decreases in every major offensive category, but I took things a bit further.
I took their home run numbers and did some quick math to see what each was on pace for had we had a full 162 game season. Springer ran away with it as he was on pace for 37.8 HR over a 162 game span with JBJ at 18.9 and Brantley at 13.5. Granted, it may not be the perfect evaluation and extrapolation of data but at a quick glance we all knew the result, Springer is the big power bat of the group.
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Up until this point, I’ve kept JBJ in the conversation as he’s the incumbent and there’s always a chance that Bloom makes him an offer he can’t refuse. But for the sake of the debate, I’m going to say good-bye to Jackie now as again, I don’t see a world where he comes back this winter. Now, with the battle down to the final two, which member of the Houston outfield should the Red Sox go after?
I stated early on that I feel that Brantley is the better of the two choices as he can hold his own defensively and his salary will keep Boston’s bookkeepers happy. Now that we looked at the offense, I think my point on going after Brantley over Springer has been hammered home. Yeah, Springer has the power numbers that the Red Sox are in desperate need of in order to balance out their weak pitching, but as I’ve said before, Chaim Bloom won’t be making big money splashes, despite what his bosses may want.
With free agency coming in hot and with this winter shaping up to be one of the weirdest ones to date thanks to COVID, I really feel like Bloom and the Red Sox play this one safe. Springer may get the fan’s interest and media attention but he may not be the best investment in the long run. Brantley, on the other hand, will get them more offense from the outfield, will deliver in the glove, and won’t break Boston’s newly reset Luxury Tax. For me, I would rather Bloom go after the veteran and former All-Star as opposed to splashing a ton of cash on the flashy signing.