Mariners FA target: Michael Brantley as a veteran bat
I’m not old yet, at just 34. However, Michael Brantley makes me feel a little old. I remember drafting him around 15 years ago in a keeper league when he was still a prospect. Now, he is coming up on the end of his career, having put together nearly a .300 career batting average and 34 WAR through a 14-year career. Does he still have enough to help out the Mariners as a free agent signing?
Brantley might be slowing down a bit, trending toward a slightly below-average fielder. No, we aren’t talking Winker territory in a -2.5 dWAR range. Since 2014, he is a -0.8 dWAR total, which isn’t bad at all. 0.7 of that has come in the last two seasons, which makes me think he might be losing a step in the field, but it doesn’t seem like a worry yet.
Michael Brantley could be an interesting bat first addition to the Mariners
It’s the bat that I want, though. Brantley is an incredibly consistent hitter and sits just below a career average of .300, currently at .298. Check out just how consistent he actually is over the last decade or so.
- 2012 – .288/.348, 112 OPS+
- 2013 – .283/.332, 105 OPS+
- 2014 – .327/.385, 148 OPS+
- 2015 – .310/.379, 129 OPS+
- 2016 – .231/.279, 48 OPS+
- 2017 – .299/.357, 108 OPS+
- 2018 – .309/.364, 124 OPS+
- 2019 – .311/.372, 126 OPS+
- 2020 – .300/.364, 127 OPS+
- 2021 – .311/.362, 119 OPS+
- 2022 – .288/.370, 125 OPS+
Let’s throw out the 2016 season, in which he was injured and only had 11 games played. There isn’t a lot of variance between his highs and lows. His eye has even gotten a bit better as he gets older, trading some extra walks for the loss of power that he’s been dealing with. He’s probably still good for 10-15 HR, but you aren’t going to see any more than that.
I know that he has been in Houston for a while, so many fans in Seattle may be a little wary of wanting anyone from the Astros on the team. However, Brantley is actually from Bellevue. Could we see some type of homecoming? If he truly is coming up on the end of his career (he will be 36 in May), then it could move the needle a little towards the Mariners if it is something both parties are interested in.
Now, this shouldn’t be a “big move” for the Mariners. It should be a tertiary move behind the trade for Teoscar Hernandez and the signing of one of the massive free agents. I do think that a bat like Brantley’s could still be a big help to the Mariners. I don’t see any reason why he would drop down too far from his current levels of production, especially with five straight seasons of an OPS+ between 119 and 127.
He’s a good bat, I’ve liked him since the mid-2000s, and getting him would mean the Astros lose a bat from their team. Sound like three good teams to me. Is he worth what it would cost?
If the Mariners could get Michael Brantley at 2 YR/$27 million, they should pull the trigger on a deal
If this is the only other thing that the Mariners do, I’m not going to be that happy. Yeah, it will help the lineup, but they still need another big move. However, if Brantley is the third biggest move the Mariners make, I think we are going to be in a really good position heading into 2023.