HOUSTON -- As expected, outfielder George Springer rejected the Astros’ qualifying offer of $18.9 million for the 2021 season on Wednesday, meaning he’s free to sign with any team, including the Astros. If he signs with another team, the Astros would receive a compensatory pick in next year’s MLB Draft.
The move to reject the offer was considered a formality for Springer, who’s hitting free agency for the first time at 31 years old and is one of the biggest names on the market this winter. Among outfielders, he’s the most accomplished free agent available from a group that also includes Marcell Ozuna and Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Astros will return Kyle Tucker to one of their three outfield starting spots in ’21 but will need to find replacements for Springer and free agent Michael Brantley if they don’t return. They could target Bradley to play center if they lose Springer, but that would be a downgrade offensively.
Still, the Astros are expected to try to re-sign Springer, who was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2020 by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. One of the most accomplished and popular players in Astros history, Springer has been one of the core players during a winning era in which the Astros advanced to the AL Championship Series the last four seasons, including a World Series win in ’17 and AL pennant in ’19. He was the Most Valuable Player of the ’17 World Series.
This year, Springer overcame a slow start to hit .265 with 14 homers, 32 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 51 games. He hit four homers in the playoffs, helping Houston get within one win of reaching the World Series, while extending his club record to 19 postseason homers. That’s tied with Albert Pujols for the fourth-most in MLB history.
In seven big league seasons, the three-time All-Star is a .270/.361/.491 hitter with 174 homers and 458 RBIs in 795 games in the regular season. His best season was ’19, when he posted a .974 OPS with 39 homers in 122 games with a 150 OPS+.