Monday, December 17, 2018

Brantley News and Rumors from December 2018

hi there, Brantley fans. the wait is over and the rumor mill about Michael Brantley is now closed. if you haven't heard yet, earlier this evening, on December 17, Michael left the free agent market when he made the decision to continue his baseball career as a member of the Houston Astros.😮 he's agreed to a straight two-year, $32 million deal and once he takes his physical tomorrow, it will be official. Cleveland fans are weeping, none more than me.😭

but before Michael gave approval to this new contract with Houston, there was a lot of speculation and rumors floating around this month and i've got them all right here for you now.

and in case you missed the rumors and reports from November, or just want to re-visit where Michael was said to potentially go last month, please refer back to this blog: Brantley News and Rumors from November 2018.

December 1: in Paul Hoynes' Hey, Hoynsie on, David of St. Augustine, Florida, wanted to know how the Indians were going to solve the Yandy Diaz, Jose Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis problem. and he did not want to hear that Kipnis would play left field. sadly for David, Hoynsie told him what he didn't want to hear, with his solution being
Diaz at 3rd base, Ramirez at 2nd base, and Kipnis in left. though he did note that a lot of things could change between now and Opening Day.

Joel Sherman wrote for that the Atlanta Braves have already gone a long way to address their number one priority this offseason, that being an offensive boost, yet, they still seek a corner outfielder. Sherman listed Michael and Andrew McCutchen as potential options to join Atlanta's lineup and fill that need. 

December 2: it was announced that Michael was one of six Indians nominated for the 2018 Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award. lamentably, Michael did not collect enough votes from the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America to win and lost to Cody Allen (who was very deserving). more information and details about this award can be found in my separate post, Brantley Nominated For 2018 Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award.

in an article about perfect team-player matches, Richard Justice claimed Michael would be the best fit for the San Francisco Giants, though they may kick the tires on Bryce Harper and A.J. Pollock. stating that Michael's .364 OBP from 2018 was 57 points higher than what the Giants got from their outfielders last season, he is one of the most reliable offensive outfielders in the game and the prototype high-OBP hitter the Giants need.

the Brantley rumors page on further noted that while the Giants, whose outfield is in desperate need of an upgrade, could afford Harper or Pollock, the underrated Michael would be cheaper and seems to be more of the type of player that President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi preferred when he was with other front offices. 

December 3: the new Indians Inbox on featured fan Brandon Peery wanting to know if there was any hope of dumping Kipnis' $14.5 million and where he fits in 2019. Anthony Castrovince (who's still filling in on the beat until the Indians pick a new reporter for Jordan Bastian, who recently took a job with the Chicago Cubs) told him if the season started today, Kip would be in left field. Castro believed the only way the Indians can move Kipnis is by taking on a good amount of his contract (defeating the purpose of moving him), trading him for a similarly bad contract, or attaching him to a more valuable trade asset, like in a deal including Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer.

Jon Morosi tweeted that if the [Philadelphia] Phillies trade Carlos Santana (to the Seattle Mariners along with J.P. Crawford in the almost finalized deal for Jean Segura), they can move Rhys Hoskins to 1st base, where he is more comfortable defensively, and that would free up an OF spot for a free agent such as Harper, Pollock, or Michael.

according to Brian McTaggart's article, the Houston Astros are likely to add a bat this offseason and the question remains of who is going to start in the outfield alongside George Springer and Josh Reddick now that Aledmys Diaz, the supposed replacement for free agent Marwin Gonzalez, was traded.

McTaggart remarked the Astros can bring in almost any outfielder and make it work since Springer and Reddick play multiple positions. Gonzalez, the team's left fielder the last two years is not expected to return. Houston had seven players start in left field in 2018, their most of any spot other than starting pitcher. Tony Kemp will be in the mix again while Kyle Tucker might not be ready to produce. Houston's left fielders ranked 11th in production last year with a .708 OPS.

Jeff Luhnow, Astros President of Baseball Operations and GM, recently revealed he's had conversations with multiple free agents, but doesn't feel the club needs to make a move to be competitive in 2019. that said, McTaggart suggested McCutchen, Pollock, and Michael as the free agent outfielders who would make sense for the Astros. as for Michael, McTaggart insisted his left-handed bat would fill a need, but also cautioned he's had trouble staying healthy, unlike Cutch.

Mark Bowman's article on discussed the outfield search of the Braves. he said GM Alex Anthopoulos will place significant value on defense and the optimal fit might be the Adam Duvall of 2017. Duvall, who was tendered a contract last week, is an option to fill the outfield void, but Bowman warned he shouldn't be seen as anything more than bench depth and could even be viewed as a fallback option if Atlanta's funds need to be used toward their rotation and bullpen. Bowman concluded that trading for Mitch Haniger of the Mariners is a more attractive option and the Braves have the prospect resources necessary for the deal if Seattle is willing.

i included this here because for once, there's no mention of Michael being on Atlanta's radar. besides that, Michael hasn't been highly regarded defensively by the sabermetrics (which i don't agree with), so if the Braves' front office is looking for a great defender, maybe they're steering away from Michael.

Jake Mastroianni agreed with Justice that Michael would make sense for the Giants in his article on he thinks signing this "aging player" is worth the risk; however, the $70-80 million price tag for four years is way too much and he would extend a three-year deal with a fourth year team option for $14 million a year. Mastroianni wrote McCutchen is an option for San Fran as well and it may come down to which player is cheaper.

December 4: a video on incorporated how Michael's veteran presence and approach would help stabilize the Cubs' lineup.

Jordan Shusterman predicted when the remaining top free agents would sign deals this offseason for an article. he had Michael signing "without a doubt" on January 10, 2019.

photo courtesy of an article on

December 5: in Bowman's Braves Inbox on, @jtimm684 on twitter inquired who is the most likely outfield target for the Braves. once again, he does not list Michael in his probables. he maintained Haniger would be the perfect fit, but Seattle doesn't seem to want to move him. so Bowman conveyed the Braves will fill their outfield need via trade or wait and see how the market materializes for Nick Markakis, McCutchen, and Carlos Gonzalez. he surmised at least one of these veterans might accept an affordable short-term deal within the next two months. (if that's what Atlanta now seeks, Michael won't be going there.) lastly, Bowman also named Marwin Gonzalez as an attractive free agent, but admitted he'll probably cost too much.

David O'Brien shared that if the market doesn't develop the way Michael expects, then he's among the possibilities for the Braves, though they aren't really looking to sign a free agent to a three-year deal. O'Brien answered a fan question on twitter by stating the Braves don't want to give long-term deals to players in their mid-30s or ones who've had trouble staying on the field.

O'Brien further tweeted he gets the impression that they'd like to have Michael and might offer three years to him, but not at the $20 million or so annually that it's believed he's looking for, and it'd have to be a significantly lower AAV for the Braves to be in on him for a deal that long. in response to another fan query, O'Brien again acknowledged Michael supposedly wants three years at about $20 million annually and he can't see that happening, nor does he see the Braves giving him three years at $48 million either. well, i can't see Michael taking a two-year deal with this being his first dip into free agency and i believe another team will offer him three years at a good price.

then later i saw Jim Bowden wrote an article for featuring 10 moves he wanted to see before the Winter Meetings end. one move was that Braves should replace Markakis with Michael, who's been "linked to the Braves all winter," noting he'd be a strong fit in the Braves' clubhouse and could play left field, moving Ronald Acuna, Jr. to right field. i mean, i'm going with what the Braves' writers write and right now, it doesn't sound like Michael is still their focus.

in the evening, i listened to Nick Camino's All In podcast on WTAM1100 iHeartRadio. he spoke with Terry Francona and when Tito talked about the exit meetings in October, he confessed how hard it was to say goodbye to guys like Michael and how Michael teared up. the visual that gave me made me so sad and i felt so bad for Michael. the Indians did him SO dirty by BSing and saying they wanted him in the org for 2018 and beyond, knowing they weren't going to have the money to re-sign him after 2018... that's so effed up. my heart breaks for Brant.

December 6:  the Indians extended Carlos Carrasco's contract today and it got me thinking... how did that make Michael feel? i mean, they both debuted on September 1, 2009, and have been with the team through all those rough years in the '10s. the club recently said they don't have the finances to sign free agents, having to go as far as to trade some of their vets, yet they somehow had the money to devote to Cookie, who's the same age as him, in future years and not Michael? i'd feel hurt by my former team if i was him.

Ken Rosenthal divulged that Michael's reps are telling clubs he is willing and able to play 1st base for the first time as a major leaguer. Rosenthal continued that no team is looking at him as a full-time 1st baseman, but those interested in him are aware of his versatility.

okay, i understand trying to market Michael as a more versatile player, and i wonder if this is happening out of "fear" that Michael might remain unsigned into the new year... however, i thought plenty of teams had interest in him as an OF. perhaps this is also be part of a plan for his agent(s) to get Michael more money on his upcoming deal. smart.

but you have to keep in mind that he hasn't played 1st base since 2008 in the minors. he only has 53 games of experience there between Double A and Triple A. so it's good that no club is looking at him to be their primary 1st baseman. sounds like this could just be a here and there, last couple innings of a game type thing. still, i think the transition back to 1st could be tough. it's not like riding a bike, he will need an adjustment period and if he can't handle it, fans will be unforgiving. i personally like Michael as an outfielder because the guy has a freakin' cannon for an arm. why mess with a good thing?

Michael's a team-first player and he'll always say that he'll do whatever a team wants because he just wants to win. that's the kind of guy he is. but i bet if you give him the choice, he'll choose playing the outfield. again though, i get the point of putting this out there to give him an advantage and edge over the other free agent OFs.

i'm curious what those who didn't like him as a defender in left field think about this, what with 1st base being arguably a more physical position. leave me a comment below if you want to see Michael at 1st in 2019.

ICYMI: i was hardcore against moving him to 1st base last year when he was still recovering from his right ankle surgery. if you want to (re-)read that, click on my Brantley News from November 2017 & Why He Shouldn't Move to 1st Base blog.

O'Brien's article on mimicked Bowden's, claiming the Braves are looking to trade for or sign an outfielder to a short-term deal if the price is reasonable and named Michael, Pollock, McCutchen, and Markakis as possibilities. again, my thought is if Michael can get a longer deal worth more money from another team, which is the projection for him, then why would he want to sign with Atlanta? this ship may have sailed along with the Indians'...

December 7: another Bowman article for listed Michael as a potential multiyear option for the Braves.

in a Cleveland Baseball Talk podcast on, Hoynsie and Joe Noga talked with former Indian Albert Belle about being on the Baseball Today Era's Hall of Fame ballot, among other things. Noga asked him who on the club right now impresses him with the way they play the game and how they carry themselves on and off the field. Belle replied, "you know what? i, i like, you know, uh, you know i still like, uh, Brantley. i was glad to see him, you know, bounce back and come back and play." i had to include this here because that's some high praise from a Cleveland great.🙌😀

December 8: Bauer posted a short video on twitter that he put together from the 2018 All Star Game in July. i recognized Michael's son and daughter in it immediately. you can see them on the plane at the 0:14-0:17 marks of the video. i've seen those kids grow up, i remember when they were born. i'm really going to miss seeing Brant and his fam in Cleveland.🙍

December 9: Jake Kaplan speculated Michael could be a fit for the Astros, whose lineup could use a left-handed hitter for balance, in his article on

December 11: there was a lot of news coming out of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Morosi informed that sources say the Astros are interested in Michael because they would like to add a left-handed bat, but are somewhat wary of blocking 21-year old outfield prospect Kyle Tucker for the long term. wouldn't it be something if Michael signs with the team that cheated in the American League Division Series in order to beat him and the Indians?😕

in an article on, Jeff Todd noted it would be a surprising match since the team is still paying top dollar to veteran lefty corner outfielder Reddick. then Todd suggested Michael could spend some time at 1st base.

according to the Brantley rumors page, Michael would solidify the Astros outfield while Tucker develops and if Tucker proves ready to make an immediate impact, Houston could still find a spot for Michael's bat in the lineup. also, if Michael is willing to sign a shorter-term deal, blocking Tucker might not even be much of an issue.

Jim Salisbury wrote on that Phillies GM Matt Klentak has a desire to upgrade the outfield and they do have interest in Michael. Rosenthal added that if the Phillies sign McCutchen, who seems to be their top choice, it would not preclude them from signing another outfield, whether it be Harper or someone else. then around 2:45 pm ET, the Phillies signed McCutchen, per Jeff Passan, to a three-year, $50 million deal with a club option.

Joel Sherman revealed that he heard the Phillies choice came down to McCutchen vs. Michael at similar prices, but Michael's durability was a huge issue and even though his left-handed bat fit better, they went with McCutchen. good luck with that.

Jon Heyman tweeted the Chicago White Sox, Braves, and Phillies have been 3 of the teams on Michael, but with McCutchen now with Philly and Harper still possible there, Philly would seem less likely for Michael for now. later, after 6:10 pm ET, Heyman confirmed Michael is out as a Phillies option since the McCutchen deal.

in a article about Indians leadership, Hoynsie again pointed out that the chance of Michael returning to Cleveland is remote. he additionally revealed how the free agents were asked in their exit interviews what they felt the personality of the team was and what parts of the clubhouse culture should be preserved. (omg as if that's Michael's problem. the Indians couldn't even be bothered to offer him a deal and yet he was expected to help them with their future that didn't include him? typical.🙄 but what an insult. if i'm a free agent and you're telling me you can't re-sign me, i'm not gonna help you and your team going forward without me. shit.)

Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti also described Michael's leadership role as an evolution over time, while Tribe GM Mike Chernoff lauded how the departing free agents left a lasting legacy that helped groom the younger players for leadership roles.

after the Phillies signing of McCutchen, Bowman stated that Michael will likely only become an option for the Braves if he has to settle for less than 3 years.

O'Brien disclosed that the Braves would be willing to give up a little defense from a good-hitting corner OF because of how good [Ender] Inciarte is and how much ground he can cover, so if they could get a corner OF bat with a little below-average D, they'd consider that. some people assumed that meant Michael.

in response to a tweet asking if the Cutch deal gives a clue on what Michael will be seeking, O'Brien offered it probably better defines the parameters. i don't believe it does because Michael is a better hitter than McCutchen and should get more money.

Anthopolous was quoted as saying, "we have definitely vetted the landscape of free-agent outfielders, and we haven't found a deal that works for us yet," in Bowman's article on Bowman also wrote that as the Braves wait to see how the market develops for Markakis and Carlos Gonzalez, they'll do the same for Michael, who will likely only become a potential target if the offseason evolves to the point where he's willing to accept less than a three-year deal.

conversely,  the Brantley rumors page indicated Atlanta may be the favorite for Michael at this point.

Jayson Stark reported that the White Sox have checked in on Michael. an article co-authored by Connor Byrne and Jeff Todd on described that Michael would be a substantial upgrade for a Chicago team that received horrid production from its cast of outfielders in 2018. okay, but does Michael really want to play for a rebuilding team? i wouldn't.

lastly, Mandy Bell tweeted how Antonetti admitted what everybody already knew--that the plan is for Kipnis to be in the outfield for 2019. Ryan Lewis' article on clarified that likely meant left field, "thus effectively replacing Michael Brantley." i wouldn't say "effectively" replacing him... Kip is no Brantley.

December 12: a question was posed to Hoynsie on twitter from @Cody_Gaines34, what would have to happen for the Indians to offer Michael a 3-year, $50 million contract to return? he simply replied with they don't have that money to spend--at the moment.

Sherman made it known that even though the Phillies chose McCutchen over Michael, if they sign Manny Machado over Harper (which is their preference), it's possible they double back to Michael for his left-handed bat; however, Michael has alternatives and could move on before that.

in an article on, Bowman repeated that the Braves don't seem willing to commit more than two years to Michael, so there outfielder search will come either via trade or by signing Markakis or Gonzalez to one- to two-year deals.

December 13: i can't imagine it made Michael feel very good when the Indians traded Edwin Encarnacion to the Mariners for Carlos Santana in part of a three-team deal. somehow, even with the Tribe taking on a $35 million two-year contract (clarified in Terry Pluto's article on in exchange for giving up a $21.667 million one-year contract plus $3 million buyout, with the $6 million that Seattle is also giving Cleveland, it was explained by Hoynsie that the Indians will save $10 million in 2019, but take on $14 million in 2020. yet they still claim to have no money to extend Michael, their heart and soul, an offer. smh.

also in the trade, the Tribe got Jake Bauers from the Tampa Bay Rays for Yandy Diaz and Cole Sulser. he's a left-handed 1st baseman/outfielder and Noga wrote on that the Indians likely see Bauers as a replacement for Michael in left field. Antonetti stated he's athletic enough to play the outfield in Hoynsie's article and he can "play out there if that's where we have an opportunity," according to Bell's article. great, an unproven hitter. that's fantastic.

conversely, i suppose that might put an end to the Kipnis in left field speculation. still, i'd rather have Michael. Pluto agreed with me in that Kipnis will probably move back to 2nd base and believes the Indians see Bauers as a future 1st baseman, though he could help in the outfield.

Braves' GM Anthopolous commented, "i think the biggest mistake we could make is to try to force a deal to sign somebody to three, four, or five years that we like, but we don't love" in Bowman's article on that applies to Michael, who the Braves are not interested in providing more than a two-year commitment to since he's only played more than 90 games once in the past three seasons. their loss.

however, Justice lists Michael as a name for the Braves to still consider in his article. the Brantley rumors page noted how someone has to replace Markakis and Michael's elite contact ability and penchant for compiling good at-bats could prove valuable for Atlanta. it also stated that between Michael, starter Dallas Keuchel, and reliever Zach Britton--all players that the Braves might be interested in pursuing, Michael might provide the best bang for the buck.

before the night concluded, Hoynsie remarked the Indians "slammed the door" on their 12 free agents, including Michael, in his article.

December 14: a fan tweeted to O'Brien that he thought the Braves would sign Michael for three years at $56 million. O'Brien disagreed, tweeting he didn't see the Braves going three years with Michael.

Eric Huysman's article referenced that the McCutchen deal increases the market for Michael and it would be hard to see the Astros offering Michael a deal similar to what Cutch received. Huysman speculated Michael could be waiting for some team to add an extra year to a deal and that Michael could be the second best outfielder still on the free agent market behind Harper. Houston would like to sign Michael, but will most likely remain patient waiting for the right deal.

December 15: on the, Rosenthal informed that the Astros are talking to Michael and Nelson Cruz and are considering signing both, though a splurge on the two would be out of character for them. between the competition on the open market and the team's need for a starting pitcher, it's more likely they'll only get one. they're also open to trading Reddick, which would allow room for Michael and Tucker, but now the concern of Michael blocking Tucker won't prevent the Astros from signing Michael or giving him a three-year deal. Michael's willingness to play 1st base is a bonus as well.

Huysman added in his article on that the Astros would probably like to sign Michael for two years, but he could want three to four.

December 16: when talking to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Jim Duquette had Michael as the third best remaining free agent and declared, "i love the player, i love the hitter, i love the fact that he makes contact. i know there's uh, the health issue, but if i were... um, you know, and again, i don't know what he's looking for, exactly. i predicted it was gonna be around four years at $60 mill. might be three years uh, at $50, somewhere in that range. supposedly, he would have taken what McCutchen, uh, what McCutchen was given, which was three at $50 by the Phillies. uh, if i could get Brantley at three at $50, sign me up. i'd want him every day."

i'm not sure if this is just a fan-type site, but in an article for, Matt Jensen made a case for the St. Louis Cardinals to sign Michael, explaining how he's the perfect number two hitter in front of Paul Goldschmidt and behind Matt Carpenter because he hits for average. but getting him in the outfield would require a trade. Jensen suggested the Rays or Indians may want Jose Martinez and Dexter Fowler in exchange for starting pitching. (don't think the Tribe is interested in trading a starter anymore, but okay.) he goes on to propose Michael be a platoon player with Tyler O'Neill because he doesn't have power numbers against southpaws. (i canNOT see Michael agreeing to be a platoon player. that's an insult to his overall talent if you ask me.) Jensen lastly recommended the Cards sign Michael now as opposed to waiting to see what Harper does and risking Michael signing elsewhere.

Mark Polishuk had Michael as the 7th best free agent left on's Top 10 and recapped that the Braves won't offer him the $20 million AAV he initially wanted over three years. he also attested that the Astros, Cardinals, and White Sox will surely aim for a lower number, too.

December 17: Rosenthal was the first to drop the bomb that the Astros were closing in on Michael around 6:47 pm ET. Passan later confirmed at 7 pm ET that Michael had agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with no options.

photo courtesy of @MLB on twitter

Passan also shared that the plan was for Michael to rotate between left field, 1st base, and DH. Michael is going to take his physical tomorrow, per Mark Berman. McTaggart has already speculated that Michael will be batting 5th for the Astros as well. numerous Astros fans expressed disapproval of this acquisition on twitter to boot. fuckin' facepalm.

more details plus some of my thoughts on his deal with Houston can be found in my Brantley Agrees to Two-Year, $32 Million Deal with Houston Astros blog.

hours later, Noga posted an article for featuring what he considered to be the 17 biggest moments from Michael's 10-year career with the Indians. there are some nice memories in it.

oddly enough, i started a twitter poll this afternoon asking fans if they thought Michael would sign a deal before Christmas. prior to the evening announcement that he agreed to terms with the Astros, almost 75% of 60-something total voters voted no.

leave any comments you have about Michael's deal below. 

okay guys, i have to keep it real right now. this is normally the part where i tell you to keep following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23. to be honest, i don't know how much i'll be tweeting going forward now, as i'm devastated at the moment, but we'll see. i do have a few more blogs planned that i hope to get published before the new year, so if you want to get alerts when those go up, join my subscription list. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper-right side of this page.📧

lastly, i want to say a very excited hello to my new readers from Serbia, Albania, and Congo - Kinshasa! welcome and thanks for reading!👋

actually, i want to thank everyone who's read my posts. your support was very much appreciated.🙌

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