- Beaumont native Jay Bruce would like to sign with one of his home-state teams (the Astros or Rangers), NJ Advance Media’s Abbey Mastracco writes. A return to the Mets is also a possibility, though Bruce’s top priority is to play for a contender. Bruce isn’t a perfect fit on either the Houston or Texas rosters, though the Astros could use another left-handed bat and the DH spot is opening up with Carlos Beltran’s likely departure. The Rangers could also have DH or right field at-bats open depending on where Shin-Soo Choo plays, or if the team wants to give top prospect Willie Calhoun a look. What doesn’t seem likely, however, is that either Texas club signs Bruce at his initial five-year, $80-$90MM asking price.
During the offseason, rumors about major league players dominate the headlines. Fans and analysts alike discuss potential landing spots for major league free agents and trade candidates. With so much of the focus on big name MLB players, the subject of which top prospects could change hands falls into the background.
The players below are some of the most valuable trade assets in the game who have not yet lost their rookie eligibility. MLB Pipeline considers each of them to be among the top 25 prospects in baseball. They all play for teams that are firmly in “win now mode”. Indeed, all five of them belong to teams that finished with a top four record in baseball last season. It’s safe to say that, were they to dangle their respective prospects as trade bait, each of those teams could fill nearly any need on their big league roster.
Victor Robles, OF (No. 2 Overall Prospect): Nationals
The Nationals signed Victor Robles out of the Dominican Republic at age 16, and he’s met little resistance throughout his development. The Nats promoted him to the majors for the first time in September of 2017; he even made the club’s NLDS roster. In his 24 regular season at-bats, Robles managed six hits, including three for extra bases. The Nationals are in need of another starting pitcher, and the 20-year-old outfielder could easily bring back an elite arm. Washington’s outfield picture for 2018 seems reasonably clear, with Adam Eaton, Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper all under contract and Brian Goodwin as a solid fourth outfielder option. However, Robles is practically major league-ready right now, so it might not make much sense to trade him when he could easily contribute this season. eIt’s especially important to note that Eaton, Taylor and Harper all dealt with injuries last season. With that in mind, the Nationals might prefer to deal their second-best prospect, outfielder Juan Soto, instead.
Kyle Tucker, OF (No. 7 Overall Prospect): Astros
Houston took Tucker out of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, FL with the fifth pick in the 2015 draft. The young outfielder proceeded to rocket through the club’s minor-league system, reaching the Double-A level midway through 2017. Tucker’s hit tool is one of the best among minor-leaguers, but the Astros already have other left-handed outfield options at the major league level. Josh Reddick and Derek Fisher both bat primarily from the left side, while George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick figure to be ahead of Tucker on the depth chart heading into 2018 as well. That’s not to say that Tucker isn’t more talented than those players, but it seems like a lot would have to happen for him to stumble into significant playing time next season. On the other hand, the Astros don’t have a clear hole on the major league roster outside of the bullpen, and Tucker is far too valuable to trade for a reliever. The organization has also reportedly been stingy about trading any of their top prospects lately, so perhaps it’s unlikely we’ll see him moved.
Francisco Mejia, C (No. 13 Overall Prospect): Indians
Mejia’s development has been a somewhat slow process; the Indians signed him out of the Dominican Republic all the way back in 2012. However, he’s vaulted up prospect lists after incredible success across the past two seasons, including a 50-game hit streak during the 2016 campaign. The best catching prospect in baseball is only 21 and has an elite hit tool from both sides of the plate. Cleveland decided to give him a bit of seasoning at the major league level this past September, which seems to imply that they think he could be close to MLB-ready. The Indians already have catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez under contract for the foreseeable future, so Mejia could be a good candidate to be exchanged for help at first base if Carlos Santana signs elsewhere. But the Indians are also testing Mejia out at third base in the Arizona Fall League, a position he could more easily claim on the Tribe’s roster at some point in 2018.
Triston McKenzie, RHP (No. 20 Overall Prospect): Indians
After McKenzie struck out 157 batters in 91 innings during his senior year in high school, Cleveland selected the right-hander in Competitive Balance Round A of the 2015 draft. The lanky 20-year-old stands at 6’5″ and throws his fastball in the low 90s, though most scouts believe he could pick up even more velocity as he grows stronger. McKenzie struck out double-digit batters in six different games at the High-A level in 2017, including a 14-strikeout effort on May 9th. Overall, the Royal Palm Beach High School product pitched to a 3.45 ERA (and a 2.67 FIP) while punching out 11.71 batters per nine innings. With the Tribe’s window of contention seemingly at its peak, and McKenzie highly unlikely to reach the majors in 2018, the righty could potentially end up being an excellent trade chip. Even if the young righty were MLB-ready, the Indians already have a stacked rotation that will include Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and two of Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger. McKenzie could be dangled for help at first base (should Santana depart), or elite bullpen help such as Brad Hand or Felipe Rivero.
Alex Verdugo, OF (No. 23 Overall Prospect): Dodgers
The Dodgers took Verdugo in the second round of the 2014 draft, and the left-handed outfielder has done well at every level of the minors. His power isn’t prolific and his speed is average, but his hit tool is excellent. Verdugo is patient at the plate and is great at hitting to the opposite field. While fellow Dodgers prospect Walker Buehler is excluded from this list due to his proximity to the majors and a fairly clear opening in LA’s rotation, Verdugo could be more of a luxury than a vital asset. Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig are set to man center field and right field, respectively, and it’s unclear whether the Dodgers are ready or willing to give up on Joc Pederson yet, especially following a strong postseason performance. Verdugo could potentially be used to land a strong second baseman. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could be used to acquire a more proven outfielder, either. Still, the Dodgers have four other top 100 prospects outside of Buehler and Verdugo. Even if they attempt to make a blockbuster trade during the offseason, they might prefer to move someone a bit further away from the majors.
What do you think? Which of these top 25 prospects is most likely to be with another organization by the time spring training rolls around? (Poll link for app users)
After a busy transactional day yesterday, let’s catch up on some of the latest minor moves:
- Catcher Bryan Holaday and outfielder Alex Presley have elected free agency from the Tigers, Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reports on Twitter. Each of the veterans was outrighted recently, though Woodberry hints that Detroit has interest in bringing both back on minors deals. Holaday will enter the pool of catchers that are looking for opportunities to compete for reserve jobs in camp. The 32-year-old Presley should also draw attention from other organizations; he turned in 264 plate appearances of .314/.354/.416 hitting in 2017.
- The Rockies selected the contract of outfielder Noel Cuevas, per a club announcement. Acquired from the division-rival Dodgers in the trade that sent Juan Nicasio to Los Angeles, Cuevas blossomed at Triple-A Alburquerque in 2017. Across 528 plate appearances, he posted a .312/.353/.487 slash with 15 long balls and 16 steals.
- Two players were also added to the Yankees 40-man roster, the club announced. Outfielder Jake Cave is one of them; the one-time Rule 5 pick won’t be eligible for the draft again this year. He turned in a compelling season in the upper minors, including a robust .324/.367/.554 batting line with 15 long balls in 297 Triple-A plate appearances. Joining him is righty Nick Rumbelow, who returned from Tommy John surgery with aplomb last year. Over 40 1/3 innings, he allowed just five earned runs on 21 hits while racking up a 45:11 K/BB ratio.
- The Indians selected the contract of Eric Haase, per the MLB.com transactions page. The 24-year-old backstop knocked around Double-A pitching to the tune of a .258/.349/.574 batting line and 26 homers through 381 plate appearances.
- Cuban catcher Lorenzo Quintana is joining the Astros for a $200K bonus, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The 28-year-old is not subject to international signing restrictions. Quintana was long one of the most productive receivers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, carrying a lifetime .310/.377/.438 batting line, but he last played there in the 2014-15 season.
There are many reasons that Alex Cora is the right man to manage the Red Sox. As Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald points out, the fact that he’s Latino only adds to that list. Cora is the 47th manager in the history of the Red Sox franchise, and, up until now, every single one of them had been white. The former middle infielder will be involved with a front office that is mostly white while managing a team on the field that has often been predominantly black and hispanic. Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy has stressed that Cora’s minority status is “a bonus rather than impetus”, but regardless, it looks great for a franchise that took 12 years longer to integrate their roster than the first MLB team to do so. Interestingly, Silverman notes that in 2017, 43 percent of major league baseball players were players of color, while only three of 30 managers were non-white.
More from around the AL…
- While Tigers are unlikely to make any significant additions to their major league roster this winter, Evan Woodbery of mlive.com says that the organization will be very active on the minor league free agent market. Detroit will focus on making moves to bolster their depth at Triple-A Toledo and will hope to “find a diamond in the rough or lightning in the bottle”, according to GM Al Avila. Woodbery lists 23 players in the Tigers’ system who are eligible to become minor league free agents, and while many of those will probably re-sign with the organization, it seems likely there will be some shuffling of their Double- and Triple-A rosters this winter.
- Three and a half years ago, an article appeared in Sports Illustrated with a prediction that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. This past Thursday, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated explains why he’s predicting a repeat for the Astros in 2018. Although only two teams have been able to win back-to-back championships since the 70’s, Reiter cites a powerhouse offense that will only lose Cameron Maybin and Carlos Beltran as a big reason the Astros can accomplish the feat next year. He also points out that more young reinforcements are on the way in five-tool left-handed outfielder Kyle Tucker and towering right-handed pitcher Forrest Whitley. While Reiter cites the bullpen as an area of need, he concludes that the Astros are “unusually well-positioned to hang onto the crown”.
- The Astros made one of the savviest signings of last offseason when they inked right-hander Charlie Morton to a two-year, $14MM contract, but they may have been able to land him for less, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. When discussing the Astros’ offer with his agent, Morton inferred that their proposal was worth a total of $7MM – an amount he was “thrilled with,” Olney writes. Morton was “astounded” to find that the Astros were willing to give him twice that figure, and he jumped at the chance to sign with the club. A year later, the Astros are World Series champions, thanks in no small part to Morton’s contributions.
MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here for the other entries in this series.
On the heels of their seven-game World Series triumph over the Dodgers, the Astros have finally entered an offseason with the rest of Major League Baseball aspiring to surpass them. It took until the 55th year of the franchise’s existence to win a championship, but the team and its fans might not have to wait much longer to celebrate another title.
Thanks largely to general manager Jeff Luhnow, whom Houston hired in December 2011 and who executed an arduous rebuilding effort to perfection, the Astros have the makings of a club that will contend for more World Series in the near future. And while professional sports teams that win titles often see key players defect in free agency in the ensuing offseason, the Astros are in the luxurious position of having all of their top contributors under control for at least another year. Luhnow won’t face much pressure to make improvements this winter, then, but he’ll nonetheless look to upgrade a roster that finished the regular season with the American’s League’s second-best record (101-61) and third-ranked run differential (plus-196).
- Justin Verlander, SP: $40MM through 2019
- Josh Reddick, OF: $39MM through 2020
- Yuli Gurriel, 1B: $30MM through 2020
- Brian McCann, C: $11.5MM through 2018 (club option for 2019)
- Charlie Morton, SP: $7MM through 2018
- Tony Sipp, RP: $6MM through 2018
- Will Harris, RP: $2.8MM through 2018 (club option for 2019)
- Jon Singleton, 1B: $2MM through 2018 (club option for 2019)
Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- Dallas Keuchel (5.089) – $12.6MM
- Evan Gattis (5.000) – $6.6MM
- Mike Fiers (4.085) – $5.7MM
- Collin McHugh (4.085) – $4.8MM
- George Springer (3.166) – $8.9MM
- Brad Peacock (3.165) – $2.9MM
- Jake Marisnick (3.145) – $2.0MM
- Ken Giles (3.113) – $5.0MM
- Lance McCullers (2.140) – $2.6MM
- Non-tender candidate: Fiers
As you’d expect, not much went haywire for the Astros during a successful postseason run that saw them upend the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers. One glaring exception was their bullpen, whose struggles forced manager A.J. Hinch into some unconventional maneuverings this fall. Ken Giles, Chris Devenski and Joe Musgrove offered elite-caliber production across a combined 172 1/3 innings during the regular campaign, but they were anything but reliable in the postseason. As a result, Hinch turned to three members of his regular-season rotation – Lance McCullers, Brad Peacock (who functioned solely as a reliever in the playoffs) and Charlie Morton – for multi-inning, win-preserving appearances during the Astros’ series against the Yankees and Dodgers.
Although Giles was one of baseball’s premier closers in 2017, he was dreadful on the sport’s biggest stage, and his Game 4 blowup against LA went down as the last time he took the mound this year. While Giles’ track record indicates he should remain the club’s closer in 2018, it’s worth noting that the Astros zeroed in on a couple other established late-game options – the Orioles’ Zach Britton and then-Tiger Justin Wilson – in advance of this past summer’s trade deadline. The fact that Houston tried to significantly fortify its bullpen even before Giles’ issues cropped up suggests its relief corps may be an area of focus this offseason. MLBTR colleagues Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams, Jeff Todd and Jason Martinez expect that to be the case, evidenced by their prediction that the Astros will sign free agent closer Wade Davis to a four-year, $60MM contract.
Davis is one of many proven relievers the Astros might go after in free agency (Greg Holland and Addison Reed are other high-end possibilities), or they could subtract from their rich farm system to make a splash on the trade market by landing someone like Britton (he’s likely to stay put, however), Brad Hand (Padres) or Raisel Iglesias (Reds). Britton, Hand or a free agent such as Jake McGee or Mike Minor would give the Astros a southpaw reliever who’s capable of handling both lefty- and righty-swingers, which is something they currently lack. The Astros’ lone left-handed reliever is Tony Sipp, who has been a bust during his two-year tenure with the club and wasn’t even on its playoff roster. The only lefty in the Astros’ bullpen during the postseason was longtime starter Francisco Liriano, a July trade pickup who made five playoff appearances and is now headed for free agency.
Luke Gregerson and late-season addition Tyler Clippard are the other two 2017 Astros relievers without contracts. Gregerson was third among Astros bullpen options in innings in 2017 (61), but his regular-season output was uncharacteristically mediocre and he was barely a factor in the playoffs (3 2/3 frames). Clippard, meanwhile, failed to pitch his way into Houston’s postseason plans after coming over in an August deal with the White Sox.
Liriano, Gregerson and Clippard may be on the way out, but the Astros still have Giles, Devenski, Musgrove, Will Harris, James Hoyt and Sipp (barring a release or trade) as locks or strong bets for their bullpen next year. Like most of those hurlers, Michael Feliz and Francis Martes had substantial relief roles in 2017. Feliz was somewhat of a disappointment, though, and Martes figures to open 2018 in Triple-A Fresno’s rotation.
Given his experience as a reliever, Peacock may return to the bullpen if the Astros don’t trade Collin McHugh, who has worked exclusively as a starter during his four-year tenure with the club and may slot in behind Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, McCullers and Morton at the outset of next season. Alternatively, the Astros could shift Peacock to the bullpen, trade McHugh, jettison Mike Fiers and use a large portion of their available payroll space on one of the two front-end starters on the open market. Yu Darvish, whom the Astros tormented in the World Series, and Jake Arrieta will easily collect the largest deals among starters this year. The Astros don’t need either of those two, though the idea of adding one of them to an already strong rotation is enticing. Plus, as good as Houston’s starters look on paper, Keuchel, McCullers and Morton have each had their share of injury issues during their careers, and Morton is only under contract for another season.
No matter which pitchers comprise the Astros’ staff in 2018, their hurlers will again have the benefit of working with a group of all-world position players. The foundational trio of AL MVP front-runner Jose Altuve, World Series MVP George Springer and Carlos Correa will be back, as will a supporting cast that consists of budding star Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Marwin Gonzalez, Brian McCann and Evan Gattis. That group of nine did nearly all of the damage for an Astros offense that laid waste to the opposition in 2017, topping the majors in position player fWAR (33.0), runs (896), wRC+ (121) and strikeout rate (17.3 percent).
The sole regular who was a weak link for the Astros was potential Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran, who was among the worst designated hitters in the league during a season in which he raked in a pricey $16MM. While Beltran didn’t live up to his deal from a statistical standpoint, Astros management, coaches and players would likely argue that the revered 40-year-old justified the pact behind the scenes. Either way, the impending free agent’s second tenure with the Astros is probably over. As such, finding a new DH figures to be on the agenda for the Astros, whose free agent targets could include two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Otani (who would also beef up Houston’s rotation), Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison, Carlos Gonzalez and Lucas Duda, to name several. Any of those six would add a lefty-capable bat to a lineup whose only left-handed regulars are Reddick, McCann and the switch-hitting Gonzalez. Santana, in particular, would give the Astros yet another hard-to-strike out offensive weapon.
As for Marwin Gonzalez, it’s unclear whether he’ll be the Astros’ regular left fielder, which he was in the playoffs, or revert to a super-utility role next year. It’s also up in the air just what Houston will get from Gonzalez, whose .303/.377/.530 line in 515 regular-season PAs may not be a harbinger of what’s to come. According to Statcast (via Baseball Savant), Gonzalez’s actual weighted on-base average (.387) far outdid his expected wOBA (.320), which suggests that his career season was largely the product of good batted-ball fortune. If the Astros agree with that, and if they allow August acquisition Cameron Maybin to leave in free agency, it could put them in the market for outfield help (though free agency won’t offer many clear solutions).
If Luhnow is in an especially bold mood, he could try to swing a trade for on-the-block Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who would make the Astros’ offense all the more video game-like. Granted, the $295MM remaining on Stanton’s contract through 2028 – not to mention his right to opt out of the deal after 2020 – may render that idea wholly unrealistic. Teammates Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich would be more pragmatic possibilities for the Astros, but the Marlins reportedly aren’t looking to part with either. The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, with a year and $14.5MM left on his contract, seems like a more practical target. The 31-year-old would be a solid stopgap for a Houston club with two touted young outfielders, Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher, waiting in the wings.
After constructing a championship-winning roster in 2017, Luhnow could make any number of headline-grabbing transactions this offseason to better the Astros’ chances of repeating next year. However, considering the overwhelming amount of talent in the fold and the paucity of integral free agents set to leave Houston, no one would blame Luhnow for taking a modest approach this winter. In the end, his most important moves may come in the form of extensions for core players such as Altuve, Springer and Keuchel, who each have three or fewer years of team control remaining.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Astros’ enviable core of talent has already delivered one World Series title and set them up as contenders through at least next season. The big-picture question facing Houston, however, will be which members of the roster are kept over the long term. Here are some notes from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman on the state of any Astros contract extensions…
- Dallas Keuchel is currently in the process of switching his representation. The ace southpaw has one final year of arbitration eligibility (MLBTR projects him to earn $12.6MM) before hitting the open market as part of the star-studded 2018-19 free agent class. The agency change “and timing could suggest he’s thinking about change,” Heyman writes, though Keuchel has been willing to discuss an extension with the Astros in the past. Previous talks didn’t result in a long-term deal, however — Heyman notes that one of the team’s initial offers was similar to the early-career extensions signed by Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale.
- There haven’t been any extension talks with George Springer in “at least a year and a half.” Houston also made an early-career extension offer to Springer, and then a significantly larger offer around two years ago. Springer is in line for extra money as a Super Two player, as he earned $3.9MM in 2017 and is projected for a big raise up to $8.9MM in 2018. Since the Astros have Springer under team control through the 2020 season, there isn’t any immediate need for an extension, unless the Astros want cost-certainty over his arb years or want to establish Springer as a long-term cornerstone player into the next decade.
- Some interesting details are provided on Jose Altuve’s representation history, as the second baseman initially parted ways with Scott Boras in 2013 when Boras advised Altuve against signing an extension with the Astros. Altuve went on to indeed sign that extension in July 2013, and Altuve’s subsequent rise to superstar status made that four-year, $12.5MM deal with two club option years into a major bargain. (Houston exercised the first of those club options for 2018, netting Altuve another $6MM in guaranteed money.) Altuve re-hired Boras as his agent in July 2016, which Heyman writes “could be taken as an indication he has a different mindset now that he has the security” of that initial contract. Boras clients generally end up reaching free agency, though there have been enough high-profile exceptions to that trend (i.e. Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Gonzalez) that there is still hope at a longer-term deal to keep Altuve in Houston.
- Carlos Correa seems perfectly willing to go year-to-year until he hits free agency. The shortstop said last spring that he was at least willing to listen about a long-term deal but only until he hit his arbitration years; Greg Genske, Correa’s agent, made the bolder statement that Correa had no interest at all in an early-career extension. Last April, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth explored the many forms a Correa extension could take, if the two sides did happen to come to an agreement. Correa will become eligible for arbitration next offseason, so the team has one more year to work out a multi-year deal, assuming Correa’s previously-stated deadline still holds.
In perhaps the least-surprising decision of the offseason, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow tells reporters that the team will indeed exercise its 2018 club options over Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez (Twitter link via the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan). Altuve will earn $6MM next year, and Gonzalez will take home a $5.125MM salary.
Altuve, of course, is one of the front-runners for American League MVP honors on the heels of a season in which he batted a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 with 24 homers and 32 stolen bases.
The 27-year-old superstar won his second consecutive American League batting championship and his third in the past four seasons. All told, he was a roughly eight-win player by both Fangraphs’ and Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement. In all likelihood, the American League Most Valuable Player Award will come down to a two-horse race between Altuve and Aaron Judge.
He’s led the American League in hits for the past four seasons, topping 200 total knocks in each of those years. Houston holds one more option over Altuve’s services for the 2019 season — yet another bargain at $6.5MM — before the five-time All-Star will be eligible for free agency in the 2019-20 offseason.
Gonzalez, 29 next March, had one of the most impressive and unexpected breakouts of any player in Major League Baseball. After hitting .268/.309/.413 in nearly 1200 plate appearances from 2014-16, the switch-hitting utility man erupted with a .303/.377/.530 batting line in 515 plate appearances. Gonzalez’s 23 homers and 34 doubles shattered his previous career-highs of 13 and 26, respectively. The former Rule 5 pick more than doubled his walk rate and also cut his strikeout rate by nearly four percent when compared to the preceding season.
Beyond his excellence at the plate, Gonzalez saw at least 130 innings at all four infield positions, including 281 at shortstop. He also played 331 innings in left field during the regular season before serving as the team’s primary left fielder in the playoffs. Gonzalez will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Astros will hire Yankees third base coach Joe Espada as their new bench coach, reports ESPN’s Marly Rivera. Espada will step into the role that was vacated when Alex Cora left the Astros to become the new manager of the Red Sox. Like Cora, the 42-year-old Espada will bring a relatively youthful presence to the Houston coaching staff. He’s spent seven seasons as a third base coach at the big league level (2010-13 in Miami, 2015-17 in New York) and has also served as a professional scout in the Yankees organization for a year. He’s also served as a minor league hitting coach and infield coordinator in the Marlins organization.
The Giants are set to hire Astr0s assistant hitting coach Alonzo Powell as their new hitting coach, reports Evan Drellich of CSN New England (via Twitter). Powell will step into the role that was vacated amid last week’s shuffle of the coaching staff in San Francisco. He’ll take over for Hensley Meulens, who shifted to the team’s bench coach role. Longtime bench coach Ron Wotus was moved to the role of third base coach.
Powell will join the Giants organization after helping guide the Astros offense that was far and away the most potent in Major League Baseball. Houston led all of baseball with 896 runs scored, was tied for an MLB-best .282 batting average, and also paced the Majors with a .346 on-base percentage and a .478 slugging percentage. Their 238 home runs trailed only the Yankees for the MLB lead.
The 52-year-old Powell has been Houston’s assistant hitting coach since the 2015 season and previously held that same role with the Padres from 2012-15. He served as the Mariners’ hitting coach on an interim basis for part of the 2010 season as well and has been coaching and managing at the minor league level dating back to 2002.
The job with the Giants will serve as a homecoming for Powell — a San Francisco native whose professional playing career began in the Giants organization back in 1983. He reached the Majors in both the 1987 and 1991 seasons, but Powell’s greatest success as a player came in 1992-97, when he starred for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. In parts of seven NPB seasons, Powell raked at a .313/.371/.510 clip.