ASTROS NEWS

Reasons to believe Michael Brantley could be ready sooner rather than later for Astros

Brantley has $4 million reasons to play as much as possible this season. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Newly re-signed Astros outfielder Michael Brantley spoke with the media via Zoom on Wednesday and provided an update on his surgically repaired shoulder.

First off, after all the reports about Carlos Correa allegedly failing his Giants physical and ultimately signing with the Mets, it's nice to see Brantley has officially signed with the Astros. His physical must have gone better than Correa's.

Based on Brantley's comments, he'll be swinging a bat in a little less than a month. When looking at the Astros spring training schedule, they play their first game against the Mets on February 25 and the regular season begins on March 30 against the White Sox.

That's a little over ten weeks between picking up a bat, and the Astros first game of the season. Of course the Astros are under no pressure to make sure he's ready by Opening Day, but it would be pretty impressive if he is fully healthy and ready to go.

Brantley must think he has a good chance at being healthy enough to play most of the season, based on the incentives in his contract. Justin Verlander agreed to a similar arrangement last year, betting on himself that he would throw at least 130 innings.

Astros beat reporter Chandler Rome is hearing that Brantley's incentives are based on his plate appearances in 2023. He could add an extra $4 million to his $12 million base salary if he reaches 525 plate appearances. Something he has achieved six times in his career.

When Brantley spoke about the free agency process, he said that he has “a great relationship with Jim (Crane). We were upfront and honest with each other the whole time. And I'm very appreciative for him allowing me to come back…”

The Astros have taken a lot of heat from the national media for firing GM James Click and not replacing him right away, allowing Crane to make these big decisions in free agency. So far, the Astros re-signed reliever Rafael Montero, added former White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, and now Brantley.

Houston missed out on former Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, but that's really the only move that can be pointed to where the Astros fell short. That and refusing to pay top of the market money to bring back Justin Verlander, a risky proposition for sure.

With most of the holes filled, the Astros might be done in free agency. There may be some small deals that get completed, but the big spending seems to be over. Fans would love to see Yuli Gurriel return in a utility role, and the team may also add a catcher to back up Martin Maldonado if they don't feel comfortable with Yainer Diaz or Korey Lee in that role.

Either way, most fans will consider this a successful offseason for the World Champion Houston Astros.

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