One team who bottomed out but came back into prominence during KC Royals playoff runs in ’14 and ’15 has managed to maintain that success.
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing the major league free agent market and projecting who might, or might not, fit the KC Royals’ needs. Today we look at the Astros’ free agents.
The effects of the cheating scandal seemed to weigh heavily as Houston had a sub-.500 record for the first time since 2014. It was good enough to sneak in the playoffs though and the championship pedigree shone through as they advanced all the way to the American League Championship Series losing 4-to-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Astros have some big-time sluggers available this offseason and one has already received and rejected a qualifying offer. They also have a package of pitchers, mostly relievers who could help another team.
Highly sought after outfielder
The big prize in the bunch is George Springer of course. During his seven years with the Astros he has clubbed 174 home runs, reached base at a .361 clip, and had an OPS+ of 114 or higher each season.
Springer made three consecutive All-Star teams from 2017-2019. ’19 was his best year as a professional producing a .974 OPS and finishing seventh in the MVP voting. He also brought home his second Silver Slugger award.
While 2020 was a drop from the prior campaign, Springer still posted his second-best OPS while cutting back on strikeouts by three percent. He banged four dingers in the playoffs and demolished Oakland pitching with a .389/.421/.778 slash in four contests.
Heading into his age 31 season, the fielding in the outfield is still pretty good although the assists have diminished from a career-high 12 in 2016. In fact, Springer had zero of those during this summer.
The outfield is a major question mark for the KC Royals and Springer would fit in nicely both in the field and absolutely in the lineup. With potentially $25 million per year deal and a five-year commitment possible, would – and should – Kansas City jump into the fray?
It would be a great splash to show the league the Royals are ready to contend but the length of the contract is worrisome due to the potential decline in keeping baserunners honest with his arm and how his legs would hold up in the final years of the deal.
Sabermetrics point to decreases in Home Run and Extra Base Hit percentages. The most concerning though is that seven percent jump in fly balls that were caught on the infield. That could be a sign that future seasons may see a drop in power numbers.
I would say the Royals should keep on eye to see how contract negotiations go with the slugger and if it ends up being watered down they can jump into the fray to see if they can get a deal.