The Houston Astros and second baseman Jose Altuve have agreed on a five-year, $151 million extension, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported on Friday.
The reigning American League MVP will play out his current deal, which will require the Astros to pay $6.0M in 2018 and pick up a $6.5M club option for 2019. The extension will take over beginning in 2020, meaning Altuve will remain under Astros control through his age-34 season. That significantly increases the likelihood that Altuve will spend his entire career in Houston.
The massive contract highlights the Astros commitment to keeping a contending team on the field for as long as possible. That sentence may have stunned some people a few years ago when the Astros had the lowest payroll in MLB and were being roundly criticized for locking up former prospect Jon Singleton on a controversial low-money contract. During that time, the Astros were in the middle of a long rebuild and were hesitant to make big money commitments. Look no further than Altuve, who they locked up on a five-year, $18.5M deal that proved to be very team friendly.
The circumstances are much different now though. Altuve’s about to get paid and as a result the Astros payroll is about to skyrocket. Though if they’ve done one thing wisely it’s make sure Altuve’s deal won’t overlap with that of Justin Verlander, who will earn $28M in each of the next two seasons.
Still, Altuve’s extension does present some interesting questions about the Astros future. Mainly, will the commitment to Altuve help or hurt their efforts to keep their core together long-term and make 2017’s World Series championship the beginning of a potential dynasty.
The structure of Altuve’s team should allow them to make strong offers to upcoming free agents like Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez. Beyond that though, it could be a challenge financially to make all the parts fit for as long as Altuve’s around.
Remember, it won’t be long until other key players like George Springer and Carlos Correa will have to be locked up too. Perhaps the money saved in recent seasons will make it more realistic to keep the core together. Perhaps the commitment to keeping Altuve will lead their other stars to wanting to continue being part of the team. Perhaps it will even lure in more outsiders looking for that one shot at winning it all.
One thing is for sure, Altuve is worth every penny of the deal right now. The 28-year-old is the driving force behind their offense, having won three of the last four AL batting titles. Though undersized at 5-foot-6, he’s not one dimensional either. He’s added power to his game, hitting 24 homers in each of the last two seasons. He’s also a two-time stolen base champion and a Gold Glove winner at second base.
Altuve does it all, and because of that the Astros had no other choice but to lock him in spite of the cost.
There’s also no denying Altuve’s value to the clubhouse and community. He’s beloved by his teammates and by Astros fans, and has arguably already reached legendary status in Houston. He’s exactly the type of player and person any team would want as the face of the franchise. The pros of the deal seemingly outweigh the cons by a wide margin, even if Altuve’s play starts to decline by its conclusion.
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