Houston finally comes through with a big offseason move

Astros land outfielder Michael Brantley to two-year deal

The move helps reinforce the offensive power of Houston's outfield. Jason Miller/Getty Images

While many Astros fans wait for the acquisition of a star catcher or starting pitcher, the Astros instead made their first big splash of the 2018-19 offseason by signing free agent outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year deal.

Brantley entered free agency at the end of the 2018 season, ending his tenure with the Cleveland Indians where he has spent his entire major league career to this point, dating back to his debut in 2009. Brantley is a three-time all-star, making the American League All-Star roster in 2014, 2017, and 2018, and sits with a career .295 batting average. He was also awarded a silver slugger award in 2014, a year he also finished third in AL MVP voting.

Brantley made a nice comeback in 2018, having one of his best seasons after two injury-shortened campaigns in 2016 and 2017. Brantley finished 2018 with an AL fifth-best average at .309 and drove in 76 runs. He has the upside of bringing a lot of consistency to a spot in the lineup, helping an already potent offense convert even more runs.

With most of his play in left field, it's unclear what this signing could mean for the future of Josh Reddick, who is allegedly on the trading block, but in any case it was a good free agent pickup for Houston and at the worst provides some depth in the outfield, which was sorely needed.

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Lovie Smith's testy encounter with a local reporter after the Texans loss to the Commanders has been a big topic of discussion locally in Houston this week, causing many to question if the reporter went a little too far.

In fact, this heated interaction even garnered national attention from ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on First Take. Stephen A. questioned whether the local reporter would have behaved the same way if former Texans coach Bill O'Brien was still running things.

Be sure to check out the video above as ESPN Houston's John Grananto and Lance Zierlein share their thoughts on the reporter's line of questioning.

Plus, the guys weigh in on Stephen A.'s position, and answer his question with a resounding “Yes!”

Editor's note: The Stephen A. portion of the segment begins at the 9-minute mark.

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Catch The Bench weekdays from 7-10 AM on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5!

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