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.