HOUSTON (AP)Veteran outfielder Michael Brantley signed a one-year, $12 million deal to remain with the Houston Astros after missing more than half of last season with a shoulder injury.
The 2023 season will be Brantley’s fifth with the Astros. Last season he hit .288 with 14 doubles, five homers and 26 RBIs in 64 games before going on the injured list with a right shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.
Brantley said Wednesday that he is progressing well since the August surgery but that he won’t start hitting until mid-January.
”We have been working hard all offseason to get back,” he said. ”But overall, I’m doing fine. I’m really happy where I am physically.”
Brantley can earn up to $4 million in bonuses for plate appearances. He’ll get $500,000 each for 400 and 425 plate appearances and an additional $750,000 each for 450, 475, 500 and 525.
He also would get $200,000 for winning the MVP award.
In four seasons in Houston, Brantley was picked for two All-Star Games and hit .306 in 379 games. Brantley missed the postseason last season but has hit .327 in 47 career playoff games with them.
He is excited to return to the team as Houston tries to build on last season’s World Series championship.
”I just look forward to being out there with my teammates contributing and just enjoying the atmosphere that my teammates bring each and every day,” he said. ”They get the best out of me and I try to get the best out of them.”
Brantley spent his first 10 major league seasons with Cleveland, where he was named to three All-Star Games and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2014.
Brantley has been Houston’s primary left fielder since signing with the team in 2019. While he was out last season, Yordan Alvarez played more left field instead of primarily serving as the team’s designated hitter. Manager Dusty Baker has said he’d like to continue to see Alvarez play defense this season, which would leave Brantley and Alvarez splitting time in left field.
Brantley said he’s spoken to Baker since agreeing to this deal but that they hadn’t discussed specifics of his role on the team in the coming season. But he added that he’d be open to playing designated hitter more if that’s what Baker wanted.
”Of course,” he said. ”I’m a team player. Team comes first always so I just look forward to contributing in a positive way.”
AP Baseball Writer Ron Blum contributed to this report.
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