Sources: Astros improve outfield, agree to 2-year deal with Michael Brantley

Outfielder Michael Brantley agreed to a two-year, $32 million contract with Houston on Monday, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports, bringing his steady left-handed bat to the top of an Astros lineup that’s already regarded as one of the most dangerous in the American League.

Brantley’s versatility and bat-to-ball ability greatly appealed to the Astros, who have a team full of those types and the plan is for him to rotate among left field, first base and designated hitter.

The 31-year-old Brantley resurrected his career in 2017 after missing nearly all of the previous season with a shoulder injury and followed up with a second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. In an era rife with strikeouts, Brantley is a clear antidote, punching out in only 10.7 percent of his plate appearances since debuting in 2009 and playing a vital role on three postseason teams.

Originally the player to be named later in the 2008 deal that sent CC Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee, Brantley blossomed from a contact-oriented hitter into a threat with consistent gap power. He complemented a .309 batting average last season with a .364 on-base percentage and .468 slugging percentage, and while his 17 home runs and 76 RBIs do not scream classic corner outfielder, Brantley’s steadiness makes up for whatever thunder his bat may lack.

32 PHOTOS
MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason
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MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason

OF Yasiel Puig

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

2B DJ Lamahieu

Left the Colorado Rockies in free agency to sign with the New York Yankees

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Matt Kemp

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Joe Kelly

Left the Boston Red Sox in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Robinson Cano

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

RHP Edwin Diaz

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

RHP Jeurys Familia

Left the Oakland Athletics in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RF Andrew McCutchen

Left the New York Yankees in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

INF Jed Lowrie

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

RHP Ivan Nova

Traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

LHP Patrick Corbin

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

1B Paul Goldschmidt

Traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

SS Jean Segura

Traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion

Traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

1B Justin Bour

Left the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

1B Yonder Alonso

Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

OF Michael Brantley

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the Houston Astros

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

RHP Matt Harvey

Left the Cincinnati Reds in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

RHP Anibal Sanchez

Left the Atlanta Braves in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

DH Nelson Cruz

Left the Seattle Mariners in free agency to sign with the Minnesota Twins

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RHP Kendall Graveman

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Chicago Cubs

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

RHP Charlie Morton

Left the Houston Astros in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Outfielder Domingo Santana

Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Infielder Daniel Murphy

Left the Chicago Cubs in free agency to sign with the Colorado Rockies

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

RHP Joakim Soria

Left the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency to sign with the Oakland A's

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

RHP Andrew Miller

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2B Ian Kinsler

Left the Boston Red Sox in free agency to sign with the San Diego Padres

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2B Jurickson Profar

Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A's

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

RHP Trevor Cahill

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2B Brian Dozier

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Shelby Miller

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Texas Rangers

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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While his play in left field is average at best – and more often below – the short term of Brantley’s deal mitigates concern of him aging off the position. Moreover, in a free agent class where the crème-de-la-crème seek 10 years (Bryce Harper) and at least five (A.J. Pollock), Brantley was a cost-effective alternative whose health issues allowed teams to pursue him without a long guarantee.

Cleveland’s passing up on tendering Brantley a $17.9 million qualifying offer also emboldened clubs’ pursuit of him – primarily because Brantley would’ve been a candidate to accept the offer and then because had he not, teams would’ve been loath to surrender a draft pick and offer Brantley a $16 million-a-year salary.

For Brantley and the Astros, it ended up a perfect match. He got his two years and $32 million. They got a new left fielder with a career .295/.351/.430 line in nearly 4,500 plate appearances and coming off a pair of strong seasons. And in a slow winter, baseball got another of its marquee free agents signed.

30 PHOTOS
Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19
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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19

RF Bryce Harper

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SS Manny Machado

(Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

SP Dallas Keuchel

(Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RP Craig Kimbrel

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

C Wilson Ramos

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

C Kurt Suzuki

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

C Martin Maldonado

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

C Jonathan Lucroy

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

C Brian McCann

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

1B Hanley Ramirez

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

2B Jed Lowrie

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Asdrubal Cabrera

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

2B DJ LeMahieu

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

2B Brian Dozier

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

2B Daniel Murphy

(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

3B Mike Moustakas

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

SS Jose Iglesias

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LF Marwin Gonzalez

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

LF Denard Span

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

CF Adam Jones

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

RF Andrew McCutchen

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

RF Nick Markakis

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

DH Nelson Cruz

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

SP Charlie Morton

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

SP Anibal Sanchez

(Photo by Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SP Bartolo Colon

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

RP Adam Ottavino

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

RP David Robertson

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

RP Andrew Miller

(Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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