The Astros are signing Niko Goodrum to a one-year, $2.1MM deal, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (Twitter link). The deal also contains possible incentives. Goodrum is a client of Roc Nation Sports.
Goodrum, who turned 30 last month, has spent the past four seasons with the Tigers. He actually debuted as a September call-up with the Twins in 2017, but he was quickly outrighted off Minnesota’s roster and elected minor league free agency. He hooked on with Detroit that offseason, and he almost immediately played his way into a regular role there.
The lefty-hitting utilityman bounced around the diamond in 2018, seeing a fair bit of action at both middle infield positions, third base and in the corner outfield. Goodrum earned a career-high 492 plate appearances that year with a league average .245/.315/.432 showing at the plate. He hit 16 home runs and stole 12 bags. The Georgia native mostly that backed that solid showing up the following year, hitting .248/.322/.421 in 472 trips to the dish.
Goodrum at least looked to be emerging as a high-end utility option for Detroit, and it seemed he might carve out a role as the long-term answer at shortstop. Even during his two best seasons, he had an alarming strikeout rate though, and swing-and-miss concerns have particularly mounted over the past couple years. Goodrum punched out in an untenable 38.5% of his trips to the plate during the shortened 2020 season, stumbling to a .184/.263/.335 line. His 2021 numbers were a bit better, but a .214/.292/.359 line with a 32.9% strikeout rate marked his second consecutive below-average campaign.
On the heels of the down seasons, the Tigers non-tendered Goodrum in November. He’d been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $2.9MM arbitration salary that Detroit felt a bit lofty. Goodrum’s deal with the Astros won’t guarantee him quite as much, but he’ll land a roster spot with an immediate contender. He might have a path to regular playing time at shortstop, at least early in the season.
The Astros have seen Carlos Correa hit free agency, leaving Aledmys Díaz as the top in-house option at shortstop. Díaz has a superior offensive track record to Goodrum, but he’s rated as a below-average defender at shortstop throughout his career. Top prospect Jeremy Peña figures to take the position over at some point soon, but he was limited to 133 Triple-A plate appearances by injury last season. Peña should immediately be a strong defensive option when he’s big league ready, but the presence of Díaz and Goodrum give the win-now Astros some cover in the event he doesn’t hit the ground running at the plate.
Goodrum has four-plus years of big league service time. The Astros could keep him around via arbitration in 2023 if he turns things around offensively and the club feels he warrants a raise via that process.