Jose Altuve's fling with the Boras Corporation has ended. The Astros' second baseman recently left Boras and signed with Scott Pucino and Wil Polidor of Octagon, where he had been before, reported MLB.com's Brian McTaggart last night. Though Altuve was with Boras for about a year, the switch went under the radar.
"It's not our business," commented Astros GM Jeff Luhnow regarding his players' choice of agency. Asked last week about extending Altuve, Luhnow said, "We'll consider any opportunity to keep him here over the long haul." Boras clients rarely sign team-friendly extensions early in their careers. As far as I can tell, a Boras client has never signed a deal that bought out free agent years with less than two years of big league service, and the only such deal with a Boras client with less than three years was Carlos Gonzalez's precedent-setting contract in January 2011. Bottom line: the switch back to Octagon increases the chances of the Astros getting a deal done, if they're so inclined.
Altuve, 23, is hitting .327/.361/.430 in 180 plate appearances this season and is bidding to represent the Astros at the All-Star game for the second consecutive year. He'll have two years of Major League service time after the season. Alcides Escobar (four years, $10.5MM) and Cameron Maybin (five years, $25MM) may provide a few imperfect points of reference, having signed as low-power players with two-plus years of service. Altuve's resume should look better than those comps, given his strong batting averages and the potential pair of All-Star nods. Perhaps he can get around $30MM on a five-year deal. The Astros have some leverage, however, as home run and RBI power pays in arbitration, and that's not Altuve's game (though he could knock in 70 this year). Plus, he won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2014 season and is under team control through 2017, so there's no reason for Luhnow to make a player-friendly offer.