George Springer Rumors: Braves Pursued Star in Free Agency 'Until the End'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2021

Houston Astros' George Springer takes a lead off of first in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves were reportedly in pursuit of outfielder George Springer prior to his decision to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.

According to David O'Brien of The Athletic, the Braves were in on Springer "until the end," although it is unclear how serious they were about signing him.

Ultimately, Springer remained in the American League by signing a six-year, $150 million contract with the Jays, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Springer was arguably the most prized offensive free agent on the market given all he has done during his seven year career.

The 31-year-old has played exclusively for the Houston Astros, racking up three All-Star nods, two Silver Slugger awards and one World Series win. Springer was also named World Series MVP with a .379 batting average, five home runs and seven RBI during the 2017 Fall Classic.

Despite his status as one of the better power hitters in the game, Springer primarily played center field and batted leadoff for the Astros, which speaks to his versatility.

Springer has clubbed at least 29 home runs and driven in at least 80 runs in a season three times during his career, with his most productive season coming in 2019. That year, Springer hit .292 with 39 homers, 96 RBI and 96 runs scored, finishing seventh in the AL MVP voting.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Springer got off to a slow start, but he turned things around and ended up hitting .265 with 14 home runs, 32 RBI and 37 runs in 51 games. Springer also played a big role in the Astros' surprise run to the American League Championship Series despite posting a losing record of 29-31 during the regular season.

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He was going to be a huge addition for whichever team signed him, and he undoubtedly would have added even more offensive punch to an already stacked Braves lineup.

The Braves have won the National League East in each of the past three seasons and reached the NLCS last season, falling just short against the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

With NL MVP Freddie Freeman and outfielders Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna leading the way, Atlanta ranked second in MLB last season with 348 runs scored.

Ozuna is a free agent, however, meaning Springer likely would have essentially been his replacement in the lineup. Now that Springer is off the market, perhaps the Braves will look into what it will take to bring back Ozuna for the 2021 campaign.