The Houston Astros announced today that they have signed outfielder George Springer to a two-year contract worth $24 million, first reported by Ken Rosenthal but best reported by Bob Nightengale:
The Houston #Astros sign George Springer to 2-year, $24 million contract that pays $12 million a year— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 5, 2018
Followed by further clarification in a subsequent tweet:
The George Springer $24 million contract averts arbitration. He had filed for $10.5 million while #Astros had filed for $8.5 million— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 5, 2018
The 28-year-old newlywed is also a newly-minted superstar, coming off a 2017 season which saw him earn rave reviews from all around baseball for being a fearless advocate for people with stuttering problems, going so far as to be live-mic’ed during the All Star Game in Miami before exploding in the World Series to the tune of a .379./.471/1.000 slash line (a hilarious 1.471 OPS) with a World Series-record five home runs (including in four straight games to end the series), seven runs batted in, five walks, and twenty-nine total bases - also a World Series record.
In his four Major League seasons, George Springer has never posted a wRC+ below 125, has never posted a wOBA below .352, has a career walk rate north of 11%, has slugged 99 career home runs, 85 career doubles, and eight career triples, and has lowered his strikeout rate each of his four seasons, culminating in a 2017 season well ahead of the league-average strikeout rate in which Springer struck out a superlative (for a power hitter) 17.6% of the time.
Speaking of 2017, it wasn’t just the World Series, his wedding, and his first All Star Game that were special for George - he was also extremely productive in the regular season, posting his second straight season with 4.5-or-better fWAR and cresting the 30 home run mark for the first time with a career-high 34 for the season. George also improved the quality of contact he makes, from posting a new career-best in ISO (isolated power, or SLG-AVG) as well as posting his lowest soft contact percentage rating (17.9%) ever while showing the second best (behind Carlos Correa) hard-hit percentage (36.7%) on the team. Of the players returning in 2018, only Correa bested him in lowest Infield Fly Ball percentage as well, as George posted an 8.7% mark in that regard as well.
All told, George Springer has established himself as an elite offensive force in the league, and while this extension doesn’t buy out any free agent years (Springer is currently set for one more trip through arbitration, in 2020, before unrestricted free agency in 2021) and while the Astros are certainly getting some savings (around $8 million, if this writer’s math is correct) while George is getting two years of peace of mind without having to worry about unpleasant arbitration and contract negotiations, it has still been overwhelmingly positively-reviewed around baseball and especially within the Astros fanbase.
Now: On to the repeat.