MLB

Houston Astros OF George Springer Is Going to Be a Wanted Man in Free Agency

The partnership between George Springer and the Houston Astros could be nearing its final weeks.

Springer, a first-round pick in 2011, teamed up with All-Star second baseman José Altuve to turn the Astros into an American League powerhouse. Now, with Springer set to hit free agency for the first time, he may bid farewell to the Houston Astros — and he’ll be a wanted man in the process.

George Springer has been an Astros great

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If George Springer has taken his final at-bat with the Houston Astros, he leaves them as one of the team’s most prolific players in recent history.

Springer hit .270 with 174 home runs and 458 RBIs in six seasons with the Astros. Primarily playing center field in recent years, Springer added a needed power bat during the Astros’ rebuild and became a three-time All-Star.

Springer also hit 19 home runs across 63 playoff games, including five in the 2017 World Series; that performance earned him World Series MVP in the seven-game victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Across the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Springer hit .265 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs. He was one of the few Astros hitters who still played at a high level after the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement system valued Springer’s WAR with the Astros at 27.3. Through the end of the 2020 season, that ranks 14th in Astros history, just behind Don Wilson’s 27.7 WAR.

Springer might not return to the Astros

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George Springer might not be long for the Houston Astros.

Springer can become a free agent after the season. Given that Springer is still playing at a high level, he should warrant interest from several teams.

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on finances could mean Springer has to take a deal worth far less than he originally expected. According to the Houston Chronicle, Astros general manager James Click noted as much in a recent press conference.

Click called Springer “one of the best players to ever wear an Astros uniform.” However, Click said baseball could lose up to $3 billion because of the pandemic and that could impact the Astros’ ability to re-sign Springer or Michael Brantley, another All-Star outfielder.

“It’s obvious to everybody how good they are at the game of baseball right now, how much they bring to this team on and off the field. The question is always how do we balance everything and make sure that we put this team in a position to succeed, not only in the short term but in the long term.”

Houston came within a game of making its third World Series in four years.

Where could George Springer sign in free agency?

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If George Springer doesn’t suit up for the Houston Astros in 2021, several teams could be a perfect match.

The New York Mets immediately stand out. So long as he is approved, new owner Steve Cohen could make a splash by signing Springer to a multi-year deal and adding him to a team that has missed the postseason in four straight years.

Springer grew up a Boston Red Sox fan. Would he consider signing with a Red Sox team that might move on from longtime center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.?

The New York Yankees have more outfielders than they can count, so Springer likely won’t wind up in the Bronx. The Yankees’ one-time rival, the San Francisco Giants, could use another outfield bat.

George Springer should be a wanted man this offseason, even in the uncertain age of COVID-19. If there are any concerns about his future, teams should be pleased with how his numbers looked after the Astros’ sign-stealing methods were exposed.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.