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The latest Brantley free-agent rumors

MLB.com

Although he's battled his share of injury problems, Michael Brantley has proven to be a well-rounded player throughout his career, and he enters free agency after hitting .309 with 17 homers, 76 RBIs, 12 steals and only 60 strikeouts over 143 games this past season.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Although he's battled his share of injury problems, Michael Brantley has proven to be a well-rounded player throughout his career, and he enters free agency after hitting .309 with 17 homers, 76 RBIs, 12 steals and only 60 strikeouts over 143 games this past season.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Could Cubs sign Brantley and shop Schwarber?
Nov. 15: The Cubs may be unwilling to hand out $300 million or more to Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this offseason, but The Athletic's Jim Bowden doesn't think that will prevent the team from improving.

In his story (subscription required) looking at one move each 2018 postseason team needs to make to get back to October, Bowden names Michael Brantley as a player Chicago should pursue for left field.

Bowden argues Brantley would be an upgrade over Kyle Schwarber on defense, and the 31-year-old's contact-heavy approach could help eliminate some of the offensive inconsistency that plagued the club in 2018.

While Chicago ranked ninth overall in runs scored this past season, it also had one or no runs 39 times -- the second most in the Majors after the Orioles.

As part of Bowden's plan, the Cubs could flip Schwarber to an American League team to address another need after inking Brantley.

Why Brantley to the Braves makes sense
Nov. 14: The Braves have two of their three outfield spots locked up, thanks to defensive wizard Ender Inciarte in center field and NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. in one corner. But Atlanta is in the market to fill free agent Nick Markakis' position in right field. The club has been linked to longtime Indians left fielder Brantley, who is among the best players on the open market and coming off one of his healthiest and most productive seasons.

It almost seems like a perfect fit, doesn't it? That could be why the on-air talent at MLB Network Radio is predicting Brantley to the Braves this offseason.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: 🚨🚨 FREE AGENT PREDICTIONS 🚨🚨The @MLBNetworkRadio team says:Brantley ������ #BravesCorbin ������ #YankeesEovaldi ������ #RedSoxGrandal ������ #AstrosHapp ������ #YankeesHarper ������ #NationalsKeuchel ������ #NationalsKimbrel ������ #BravesMachado ������ #PhilliesPollock ������ #Mets pic.twitter.com/zXhhCHEFXi

Brantley offers a lot of what Markakis provided in his four years in Atlanta: solid on-base skills at or near the top of the lineup, good contact-making ability, capable defense in the corner outfield with a strong arm and a veteran presence. At 31 years old, Brantley is the same age now that Markakis was when he made his way to the Braves, too.

Brantley's offensive and defensive tools also could allow Atlanta to shift Acuna both in the lineup and in the outfield, if the club so chooses. While the phenom's rookie campaign took off when he was moved to the leadoff position, his power bat could be better served hitting second, third or fourth to give him more opportunities with a strong leadoff hitter on base. In that sense, Brantley checks a lot of boxes.

Video: Bowman on Braves' interest in outfielder Brantley

Deciding between Brantley and Pollock
Nov. 13: When it comes to choosing the second-best free-agent outfielder -- that is, the No. 2 option after Bryce Harper -- the decision could come down to Brantley and A.J. Pollock. As is, there are a number of similarities between the two as veterans north of 30 years old who possess top-of-the-lineup skills and solid defensive ability but also come with a history of missing time.

Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News weighs the choice between Brantley and Pollock, making the case for each by breaking down various aspects of their games, including the fact that Pollock was offered -- and declined -- the $17.9 million qualifying offer, thus saddling him with Draft-pick compensation. The verdict?

"Teams will roll the injury dice to sign either guy," Fagan writes. "Pollock has the higher upside, but for a team that is loathe to part with any draft pick, Brantley might be the better bet."

Despite OF questions, the Indians are unlikely to bring back Brantley
Nov. 12: With Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall hitting the open market, the Indians have question marks at all three starting outfield spots for next season.

But after a strong -- and healthy -- 2018 season put him in position to receive a lucrative multi-year offer, the 31-year-old Brantley is seemingly unlikely to return to an Indians club that is reportedly shopping some of its veterans for short-term financial relief and younger, cheaper assets.

In fact, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that there is "nearly a zero chance" of the Tribe re-signing Brantley.

With no qualifying offer attached to Brantley, new teams won't be forced to surrender a Draft pick to sign him. As a result, there could be a robust market for the veteran, especially among clubs that need a corner outfielder but aren't in on Bryce Harper. The Braves, the Phillies and the White Sox have reportedly already made offers to Brantley.

Could the Rockies be the right fit for Brantley?
Nov. 10: In his piece for the Athletic outlining needs and potential free agent targets for all 30 clubs, former MLB general manager Jim Bowden lists outfielder Brantley as a potential fit for the Rockies. Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich has stated that the club's offense will be the focus during this offseason, and with both Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra on the free agent market, offense in the form of an outfielder would make sense. 

Brantley has spent his entire 10-year Major League career in the American League with the Indians, but spacious Coors Field and the thin air of Denver could be very inviting for a hitter of his caliber. Though he's never been a 30-plus home run hitter, Brantley has always had a penchant for extra-base hits, leading the AL in doubles with 45 in just 137 games for the Tribe in 2015. With the large gaps between outfielders at Coors Field, Brantley could certainly use that to his -- and the Rockies' -- advantage.

Brantley reportedly has offers from three teams
Nov. 9: The Indians didn't choose to make Brantley the $17.9 million qualifying offer a week ago, and a report by Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com indicated that the 31-year-old outfielder will likely sign a deal with another club in free agency.

In fact, Hoynes reports that Brantley already has offers from three teams: the Braves, the Phillies and the White Sox. And the bidding for the corner outfielder -- the best on the market, non-Bryce Harper division -- probably isn't done yet. For example, the Cubs are likely out on Harper because of their lack of payroll flexibility but could still use an effective bat near the top of their lineup. When healthy, that's exactly what Brantley has been for Cleveland out of the No. 2 spot in the order.

The market for Brantley also benefits from the fact that the lack of a qualifying offer means that whichever team signs him will not be subject to Draft pick forfeiture. The Braves have emerged as a team with both vested interest in landing a corner outfielder and the payroll flexibility to make a move for Brantley. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Brantley will end up with Atlanta on a three-year, $45 million deal.

Moreover, it would be surprising if the Phillies or White Sox would land Brantley at such an early stage of the offseason, since both are among the teams most interested in Harper, and there hasn't been any indication that the sky-high bidding for Harper will resolve itself with any expediency.

Michael Brantley