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The Astros are calling up George Springer

Apr 16, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

George Springer Getty Images

I wasn’t expecting this until June, maybe, but the Astros are going with the smart baseball decision over the smart financial decision. From Mark Berman at Fox26 Houston:

Major League Baseball sources told FOX 26 Sports the Houston Astros will call up outfielder George Springer from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Springer went 3-4 with a grand slam and four RBIs in the RedHawks 11-9 win in Colorado Springs Tuesday night. He is hitting .353 this season with three home runs and nine RBIs. Last season Springer hit .303 with 37 home runs and 108 RBIs while splitting time between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

He’s clearly ready for the majors. And maybe would’ve been there already, but the Astros seemed determined to use his time in the minors as a way to leverage him into accepting a seven-year, $23 million contract. Which, however cool that might be for a guy at least three years from a significant payday, would seriously undervalue him if he even comes close to fulfilling his potential. A gamble for Springer, sure, but given where salaries are these days, him getting less than $4 million a year as he goes through arbitration would be almost comically cheap.

It’ll be interesting to see if the sides do reach a long-term agreement soon after his callup, the way the Rays and Evan Longoria did when he finally reached the majors back in 2008. If so, it’ll add some credence to the notion that the Astros made Springer’s callup contingent on his accepting a long term deal. If not, it means that Springer called the Astros’ bluff and basically forced them to call him up via his fantastic play.

  1. Detroit Michael - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Given that it has been at least 10 days since Springer was optioned to AAA, he doesn’t get MLB service time credited for while he was down. There also are < 180 days left to the regular season. I believe the Astros have postponed when Springer will be eligible for free agency by a year by sending him to the minors to begin 2014, even if Springer never is optioned to the minors for the rest of his career.

    • paperlions - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      Exactly. This wasn’t a ploy to get him to accept a contract offer that hasn’t been on the table for months. It was just the necessary action to ensure 7 years of team control.

    • yahmule - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      I hope they enjoy that extra year because they’ve alienated him to the point where he’ll never sign an extension there. Maybe their TV broadcasts will actually fog glass now.

      • stex52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Never say never, Yah. But looking several years out for where the Astros are right now is pointless. If he walks in his free agent year, so be it. Right now they need to stop the bleeding.

      • drewsylvania - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        By that point the alienation will be many years behind him.

    • kopy - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      At least he’ll almost certainly qualify for Super Two status and be arbitration-eligible at the same time as if he was always up in 2014. The Astros cost themselves some money to bring him up this early, but it’s probably worth keeping him happy.

      • yahmule - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        They definitely ticked him off by dangling that below market deal (which would have locked him up until he was 31) at him like a carrot.

    • scottp9 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Technically he wasn’t optioned, because he hadn’t even been added to the Astros’ 40-man roster yet. But your point is right, there aren’t enough days left in the season for him to get credit for a full year of service in 2014, and so the Astros have gained an extra season of control (2020).

  2. stex52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    The Astros and Springer can figure the salary out. I’m just glad he is up. Time to fish or cut bait. I have high hopes, but he had an Adam Dunn-like strikeout rate in the minors. We need to see how that translates to the majors. We will hope this is a step back toward respectability for the Houston franchise.

    • jeffa43 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Dunn like k numbers, but not Dunn like avg and obp.

      Don’t care if all his outs are k, as long as he hits 300 w power. Will take 270 with power to start.

      Merry Christmas Astro fans.. and Sigleton is off to a better than Springer. Bring Stassi up as well. We are hitting 190.

  3. renaado - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Certainly what the Astros and it’s fans needed.

  4. cohnjusack - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    the way the Rays and Evan Longoria did when he finally reached the majors back in 2008.

    Counting this year, the Rays have Longoria for up to 10 more years at an AAV of just $13.7 million. For some perspective, that’s less than what John Danks is making.

    • southpaw2k - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      That sound you just heard was John Danks falling out of his chair, laughing uncontrollably like The Joker.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Grossman pretty much insisted on it the way he bobbled everything in the OF last night.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    Sorry to post back to back, but this has been bothering me: why is the baseball team in the 4th largest city in the US trying to lowball its top prospect and play the “small market” card with player payroll? I understand that Houston is not primarily a baseball town, but the AAAstros have done precious little recently to win fans over. When they had the likes of Berkman, Biggio, Bagwell, Clemens and Pettitte, and were contending somewhat regularly, people cared and the team was gaining in popularity. How can they justify a “rebuild” taking SO LONG??

    • yahmule - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      There’s a not so fine line between rebuilding and outright tanking and Houston crossed it a while back.

      • stex52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        I wish I could argue your point, Yah. I can’t.

    • American of African Descent - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      The Astros justify the length of their rebuild the same way the Mets do.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        The Mets rebuild is atrocious as well.

        In their defense, they just got out from under Johan’s contract, they paid David Wright and went out and got Granderson and Colon this season. We can snark about Granderson and Colon, but they were definitely upgrades over the Mets in-house options. All of that said, they play in NYC and attract every Yankee-hating New Yorker. They should be printing money and spending it to make the team better.

    • stex52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      When you figure it out, Sabathia, let me know. I went ballistic on the subject two years ago. The last owner completely screwed up the farm system and talent development toward the end of his tenure. But he got one thing these guys don’t. If you don’t put a marketable product on the field several years running you just soil the nest.

      Jeff Luhnow took the gamble that you could burn the whole thing down and start fresh and not alienate the fan base. He was way overly optimistic about how quickly things would change (he has admitted that). Right now Houston has a strong farm system and a MLB team that plays at the definition of replacement level. Improvement needs to come very soon.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        I have no problem with the idea of rebuilding, but they can’t bank entirely on player development. That team should have some money to spend. They got Scott Feldman. Seriously, he is pretty good, but that signing won’t turn the fate of the franchise or cause anyone to tune in. At this point, they have been so bad for so long they will probably have to pay a premium to entice free agents to come, but they have to start somewhere.

      • stex52 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Another (bad) argument is the bankruptcy of their cable agreement. But that is just another measure of how the new management has misjudged the product.

        You are right. Some investment is needed.

      • yahmule - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        That’s a good point, Sabathia. They’ve not only turned off a large part of the fan base, but they might pay back all the money they think they saved by trying to entice free agents to play there.

        Even more of a concern is that they’re not maximizing the value of this approach. IMO, they’ve failed to pick the best amateur with the number one pick the last two years. There are few people in baseball who would prefer Correa/Appel to Buxton/Bryant.

    • hk62 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Because of the ownership. Drayton’s band-aid plan cost them 4 years and they had the worst player development system in baseball because of it. Once he sold, you changed to a “fix the system so that you can sustain winning” type of approach. The Astros TV money was closer to Pittsburgh’s than to Chicago’s or Philly’s. Now the Comcast fiasco may take a few years to get it back to actually being a revenue stream. Size of the city (market) isn’t what justifies payroll – its the size of the revenue streams.

      Besides, the just spend guys have won how many of the past 5 WS?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        True, but the size of the market should have a pretty direct impact on the revenue streams, and thus payroll. There is a bit of chicken/egg thing there, as TV can only generate revenue if ownership creates a team people want to watch.

        I’m not saying any club should be a “just spend” club. I am saying it should be a mix of development and spending. So far I have not seen any of the latter in Houston.

        That said, I’ll take the bait with your game. Just about every team in the playoffs last year was top 11 in payroll, with the winners at #4. 2012 SF came in at #6. Cars and Giants were both #11 in 2011 and 2010 respectively, and then of course there were the Yankees in 2009 at #1. So yes, teams need to spend to get to the playoffs, and they need to spend to win it all.

  7. cackalackyank - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    This is sure to put a spring in his step.

  8. kcroyal - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Seems foolish to not wait until the estimated Super Two deadline if yet don’t have a deal in place. An extra year in exchange for a month and a half tops in a season that means virtually nothing seems like a no brainer.

    • hk62 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      By waiting until after April 11, they get the extra year of service time – they just may have to do 4 arb years (spend more) – so it didn’t effect how long he’s still an Astro – it effected how much it could cost.

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