George Springer Rumors | MLB.com (www.mlb.com)

No other free agent for 2020-21 can match the October pedigree of George Springer, whose 19 career postseason home runs are tied for the fourth most in history. That included four dingers in the ’20 postseason for Springer, who was one of the few Astros who hovered near his expected level of play, based on years past, during the regular season (140 OPS+, 14 homers in 222 plate appearances). Now, the lifelong Astro is set to test the free-agent market for the first time as one of the premier offensive players available.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 31-year-old outfielder, who did not accept the Astros’

and will be tied to Draft-pick compensation if he signs with a team other than Houston.

Alderson: Mets ‘still engaged’ in Springer discussions

Jan. 12: After the Mets landed a pair of big acquisitions in Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, no one is shutting the door on New York going one step further by signing Springer — including the club’s top decision maker.

In an appearance on the “Big Time Baseball” podcast, Mets president Sandy Alderson told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that his front office might begin to build from the bench outwards, recognizing that New York still needs to add role players to fill out its 26-man roster. But when asked specifically about the Mets’ ties to Springer, Alderson acknowledged that the Amazins have not shut the door on that possibility yet — and vice versa.

“When you look at starters and guys we’d like to put in the outfield, we only have two,” said Alderson, likely referring to Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. “And we need three — and probably four or five. We definitely have some work to do. Given the level of excitement, enthusiasm surrounding the Mets, I don’t think we’ve been crossed off his list … I would say that we’re still engaged, in a loose sense, with Springer.”

Alderson said the Mets are still determining how close they want to go in regard to the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold of $210 million — a figure that looms closer to the franchise after adding the salaries of Lindor and Carrasco to the payroll this week. Their comfortability with flirting with that line could influence how aggressively they chase the remaining top-tier free agents like Springer, Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu.

“We haven’t determined to this point whether we’re going to be below or under it,” said Alderson, “but just because we’re a big-market club doesn’t mean we don’t have to make choices. It’s as important to have discipline for the big-market club as it is for the small-market club — in fact it’s more so. The big-market club has more options that the small-market club doesn’t even consider, because they’re just not possible.”

Could Springer push these clubs over the edge?

Jan. 12: While there has been no shortage of rumors linking Springer to both the Mets and Blue Jays this offseason, MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan makes the case that the three-time All-Star could also make a World Series-caliber impact for either the White Sox or Braves.

The White Sox have already made it clear that they intend to make a run in 2021 with a couple big moves this offseason. After acquiring Lance Lynn from the Rangers in December, Chicago has agreed to a three-year deal with top free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks, according to a source. Adding Springer to the outfield on the South Side could be the last piece the White Sox need to separate themselves from the Twins in the American League Central — and perhaps the rest of the AL, in general.

As for the Braves, they are still looking to replace Marcell Ozuna in the middle of their order. Ozuna, who led the National League with 18 home runs last season, remains a free agent, while Atlanta is seemingly waiting to see if the NL once again implements the designated hitter rule for 2021 before deciding to make a run at re-signing him. Signing Springer would not only offset the loss of Ozuna offensively — without any of the defensive concerns — but it would once again give the Braves one of the most formidable lineups in the NL with Springer sliding in alongside Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and reigning NL Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman.

How much is Springer looking for in a contract?

Jan. 9: What will it take to land Springer this offseason? According to SNY’s Andy Martino, around $175 million.

Martino adds that he’s hearing the Blue Jays’ offer on the table for Springer is below $150 million, and goes on to say that while Springer would be nice for the Mets to add after the blockbuster move they made to acquire Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, “the Mets can’t spend like drunken sailors,” borrowing a line from new owner Steve Cohen earlier this offseason. “I would be stunned if the Mets gave him [$175 million],” Martino said.

Another point Martino brings up is that Springer may have to move to right field as his primary position within a couple of seasons, which would create a dilemma for New York with current right fielder Michael Conforto.

What could Mets’ blockbuster mean for Springer pursuit?

Jan. 7: Led by new owner Steve Cohen, the Mets have been one of the more aggressive teams this offseason, retaining starter Marcus Stroman with the $18.9 million qualifying offer and signing catcher James McCann (four years, $40 million) and reliever Trevor May (two years, $15.5 million) before pulling off Thursday’s blockbuster trade with the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco.

There might be more to come. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the team hasn’t ruled out Springer, even with the acquisitions of Lindor and Carrasco.

The trade could add more than $30 million to New York’s 2021 payroll, and the team presumably will try to ink Lindor to an extension. The shortstop has one year of team control remaining before he can test free agency.

FanGraphs’ Roster Resource projects the Mets still have roughly $32 million to spend before hitting the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Mets president Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday that the team isn’t viewing the threshold as a hard cap.

“It’s a significant demarcation,” Alderson said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a line that can’t be passed.”

However, SNY’s Andy Martino reports that a Springer acquisition would likely require the Mets to shed payroll in a trade.

The Mets are apparently considering other options for center field, meanwhile, as Mets blogger Mike Mayer reports that the team has been in contact recently with Jackie Bradley Jr. The 30-year-old ranks eighth overall with +49 Outs Above Average since 2017, and he had a 118 OPS+ — his best mark since ’16 — last season. He’s projected to be much less expensive than Springer.

Report: Mets ‘optimistic’ Springer will land in Queens

Jan. 5: It’s still not clear whether the Mets or Blue Jays — the two perceived frontrunners for Springer at this point — are coming anywhere close to his reported asking price of $150 million or more. But the mood in Queens still appears to be chipper: a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that “team brass is optimistic Springer will be wearing a Mets uniform by the time Spring Training begins.”

Obviously this is just one report, and an “optimistic” feeling does not equate to the guaranteed sight of Springer in orange and blue. But by all indications, the Mets’ focus remains on the big bat of Springer that could significantly improve their outfield rotation. Should Springer sign elsewhere, Puma lists Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar and Jake Marisnick as alternative options (either via free agency or trade) for the Mets in center field.

Blue Jays willing to go to $125M or higher for Springer?

Jan. 4: The Blue Jays and Mets are reportedly the finalists in the race for Springer, but it remains to be seen if either club will meet his asking price, which SNY’s Andy Martino reported to be “well over $150 million” last week.

According to SportsNet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, Toronto has given some in the industry the impression that it is willing to go to $125 million for Springer. That would easily rank as the top free-agent deal in franchise history, “… and there’s a good chance that’s not even a hard limit,” Nicholson-Smith writes. However, he considers the Mets more likely to reach the $150 million threshold than the Blue Jays.

Nicholson-Smith compares Springer to Anthony Rendon, who signed a seven-year, $245 million deal ($35 million average annual value) with the Angels last offseason.

At the time, Rendon was heading into his age-30 season and had a lifetime .290/.369/.490 slash line (126 OPS+) with 136 homers and 29.1 Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball-Reference). Springer is heading into his age-31 season and owns a career .270/.361/.491 line (131 OPS+) with 174 homers and 27.5 bWAR.

Springer isn’t expected to get a seven-year deal, but it’s possible he will continue to look for a similar AAV.

Report: Mets, Blue Jays the finalists for Springer

Dec. 30: According to a report from Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, the Springer race is down to two teams: the Mets and the Blue Jays.

However, SNY’s Andy Martino reported earlier on Wednesday that the Mets and Springer were “still a good distance apart on value,” with the center fielder asking for “well over $150 million.”

Martino added that Springer remains a more likely target for the Mets than Trevor Bauer, writing that “there has been no evidence of a serious pursuit of Bauer to date.”

The Mets and Blue Jays both have been connected to Springer throughout this offseason. On Dec. 21, Jeff Passan noted in an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) that executives he talked to considered the Springer sweepstakes to be a “two-team race” between New York and Toronto, although there were other unnamed teams involved at that point.



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