The defending World Series champion Houston Astros are bringing back a familiar face. Michael Brantley is returning to Houston on a one-year contract worth $12 million, according to The Athletic. The deal includes $4 million in incentives, according to the New York Post. The Astros have not yet announced the signing.
Brantley, 35, was hampered by a shoulder injury this year that required season-ending surgery in August. He did not play after June 26 and the surgery came with a 5-6 month recovery. Brantley said in September that he expects to be able to resume baseball activities in time for the start of spring training.
"I did everything in my power. All the guys in this locker room know exactly what I went through, and I appreciate their support, but at the same time I just couldn't get to where I needed to be to play at this level," Brantley told SportsRadio 610 in September. "... "I've been through this before. I gotta put in the time and effort to get my shoulder back right. As of right now I'm doing great."
Prior to the injury, Brantley authored .288/.370/.416 batting line with five home runs in 64 games. His power was diminished by the shoulder injury, though he remained an excellent contact bat and on-base guy. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Brantley the 15th-best free agent available this offseason. Here's his write-up:
Brantley is and has been a terrific hitter for nearly the duration of his big-league career. He'll turn 36 in May, though, and he didn't play after June 26 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. He's a prime candidate to sign a one-year deal with the Astros or another contender willing to bet that he makes a full recovery.
From 2019-21, Brantley authored a .310/.367/.474 batting line in over 1,300 plate appearances with the Astros. This year was the second time the five-time All-Star had to miss the World Series with an injury -- ankle surgery kept him out of the lineup for Cleveland in the 2016 Fall Classic.
The Astros have Jake Meyers and Mauricio Dubón as outfield depth in the event Brantley is not ready for Opening Day. They can also put Yordan Alvarez in left field and slot in someone else at DH, such as David Hensley. Houston signed José Abreu earlier this offseason and, once Brantley is healthy, the lineup will again be fearsome and one of the best in the sport.
Houston won 106 games en route to their fifth AL West title in the last six years in 2022. They went 11-2 in the postseason to capture the franchise's second World Series championship.