TODAY: Also heading to Excel is outfielder A.J. Pollock, another key piece of the free agency puzzle this winter. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link), Pollock is staying with his own agent, Brian Peters, who’s also moving to Excel.
YESTERDAY: Outfielder Michael Brantley has hired Excel Sports Management to represent him in free agency, SB Nation’s Devan Fink recently reported on Twitter. He is moving to Excel from The Legacy Agency along with agent Kenny Felder and some of Felder’s other clients, including George Springer of the Astros and Lewis Brinson of the Marlins.
Of this trio, Brantley’s case is of particular note since he’s now a free agent. He recently reached the open market without having received a qualifying offer, meaning any team can sign him without surrendering draft compensation.
Brantley, 31, spent ten seasons with the Indians. The latter half of his time in Cleveland was played under an extension that included an option for the 2018 season, which the club picked up at $11MM. However, the $17.9MM QO proved too rich for the Indians, even after watching Brantley turn in a nice effort in 2018.
While he’s hardly an eye-popping power threat for a corner outfielder, Brantley is an exceptional contact hitter who is plenty valuable on offense. He finished the 2018 campaign with a .309/.364/.468 slash along with 17 home runs and a dozen steals. Brantley was a tough out, with a 9.5% strikeout rate that only just exceeded his 7.6% walk rate.
Brantley’s new reps will no doubt pitch their client as a high-quality performer with the bat who showed recently that his particular skills haven’t waned. He can also provide some value on the bases, though Brantley isn’t particularly well-regarded defensively and is also somewhat vulnerable to left-handed pitching.
The biggest questions surrounding Brantley, though, don’t involve his quality of play. Rather, they concern his ability to stay on the field. Brantley has endured a series of travails that cast some doubt on his durability, particularly given the cumulative effects. At the same time, he was healthy in 2018 and offers a hitting skillset that isn’t easy to come by. MLBTR recently named him the tenth-best free agent on the market, predicting a three-year, $45MM contract.
Find up-to-date information on player representation in MLBTR’s Agency Database.