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Astros bolster bench, sign Niko Goodrum to one-year contract

Ex-Tigers utility man has quality tools, just not the most important one.

Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Astros have made their first post-lockout acquisition, reportedly signing infielder/outfielder Niko Goodrum to a one-year deal worth $2.1 million according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman:

The 30-year-old Goodrum has experience playing around the diamond, with shortstop and second base being his primary positions. In his four years in Detroit, Goodrum slugged 42 home runs and stole 45 bases (58 attempts) in 1,468 plate appearances, sporting a career slash line of .230/.303/.396 and a career wRC+ of 88. He hits from both sides of the plate and has polar opposite career splits, slashing .309/.374/.456 against southpaws and an abysmal .201/.278/.375 versus righties.

A second-round pick in 2010, Goodrum flashed potential in 2018 and 2019, sustaining an average in the mid-.240s while hitting 28 home runs and stealing 24 bags combined across both campaigns. Above-average Barrel rates and a consistently high Sprint Speed display his notable power/speed combination. A career strikeout rate that’s just north of 30 percent, however, has hampered his ability to be productive offensively.

Defensively, advanced metrics such as Outs Above Average (OAA) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) are somewhat split. The former views Goodrum as a quality defender — particularly at shortstop — while the latter is more lukewarm.

With Andrelton Simmons signing with the Cubs and José Iglesias inking a contract with the Rockies, Goodrum appears to be the Astros’ answer to one of the lingering questions of the offseason: Will a stopgap shortstop be signed in free agency?

It’s far from a decisive answer, as Goodrum could merely be depth and the Astros’ top prospect, Jeremy Peña, could still be looked at internally as the favorite to be the Opening Day starter. Though he posted below-average walk and strikeout rates in Triple-A in 2021, the 24-year-old Peña possesses formidable tools across the board and has the potential to make an impact at the plate and in the field, with the latter being perhaps the strongest aspect of his game.

If nothing else, he projects better in 2022 than Goodrum, according to virtually every projection system.

Meanwhile, Carlos Correa remains a free agent. For now.