The Astros "made it clear" that they want to work out a long-term deal with Springer, who can become an unrestricted free agent after 2020, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports, citing a source report from Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Springer, who turns 31 in September, will be one of the more attractive players on the market during next offseason, but Houston owner Jim Crane has told the outfielder and his representatives that the club is interested in working out an extension before the player hits free agency. Per the agreement worked out between MLB and the MLB Players Association, all players will receive a full year of service time even if the season is canceled or abbreviated, meaning Springer will become a free agent regardless of how the coronavirus pandemic impacts MLB in 2020.
Springer batted .261 (6-for-23) with two walks, two stolen bases and two runs scored over eight Grapefruit League games. Springer is poised for another big season in 2020 as the 30-year-old outfielder enters his final year before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021. A hamstring injury limited him to 122 games last season, but Springer launched a career-high 39 home runs while establishing new career thresholds in average (.292), on-base percentage (.383), slugging (.591), WAR (6.5) and wRC+ (156). Only five players ranked ahead of him in weighted runs created. He'll return as Houston's leadoff hitter in 2020.
Springer will hit atop the Astros' order this season, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Springer has been the team's primary leadoff hitter since the 2016 season. New manager Dusty Baker made clear he wasn't planning on making any changes to Springer's role, saying, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." In each of his four seasons as the team's leadoff hitter, Springer has scored no fewer than 96 runs.
Springer signed a one-year, $21 million contract with the Astros on Thursday, avoiding arbitration, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. After a season in which he recorded a career-best .974 OPS with 39 home runs, Springer and the Astros were able to settle on a contract to avoid arbitration. The 30-year-old was in the conversation for the American League MVP honors before missing time with head and hamstring injuries in 2019, but he should be ready to take on another big role for the Astros in 2020.
Springer went 1-for-5 with a three-run home run in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS. Springer made his lone hit of the game count, taking Masahiro Tanaka deep in the third inning to give the Astros a 3-1 lead. Springer has managed just five hits in 38 postseason at-bats, but his bat has shown some life with two homers in the last three games.