The Astros have locked up a key member of their rotation, announcing agreement with Cristian Javier on a five-year deal. The contract, which does not contain any option provisions, locks in his final three seasons of arbitration control and buys out two would-be free agent years. It’s reportedly a $64MM guarantee for the MVP Sports Group client.
Javier will receive a $2MM signing bonus and a $3MM salary for the upcoming season. That’ll be followed by successive salaries of $7MM in 2024, $10MM in 2025, and $21MM annually between 2026-27. Javier’s salaries in the final two seasons can escalate depending on his Cy Young finishes in prior years. He’d add $2MM to his salary in the final two seasons with any previous Cy Young win, $1MM with a runner-up, or $500K for a third through fifth place finish.
“Cristian is an outstanding pitcher, so we are really excited about signing him to a long-term deal,” first-year general manager Dana Brown said in the team’s press release. “We felt that he is the perfect candidate for this type of deal as a core piece of our rotation. This is in line with our vision to try to to lock players up to sustain our success both now and in the future.”
Javier, 26 next month, signed with the Astros as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic during the 2015-16 signing period. Two years older than the typical international amateur acquisition, Javier received a $10K bonus as an unheralded prospect. That he even made the majors given that modest starting point is a testament to his progression and the Astros’ strong pitcher development staff. Javier has performed at an above-average level from essentially day one in MLB, breaking in with 54 1/3 innings of 3.48 ERA ball during the shortened 2020 schedule.
It was a promising rookie showing in which Javier started 10 of his first 12 outings. He started the first nine appearances of the following season but was kicked to the bullpen in late May thanks to the Astros’ starting pitching surplus. Javier thrived in relief, striking out 31.3% of opponents with a 3.93 ERA as a multi-inning weapon. That affirmed his ability to perform at a high-end level over a full season and put him in the mix for a potential return to the rotation.
That transition back to starting came last April. After three relief outings to open the year, Javier was moved back into the rotation as part of a six-man starting staff. He improved upon his strong first couple seasons, totaling 148 2/3 innings of 2.54 ERA ball. He fanned 33.2% of opposing hitters while generating swinging strikes on an excellent 13.8% of his overall offerings. Among 72 pitchers with 140+ innings, only Carlos Rodón and Shohei Ohtani racked up strikeouts more efficiently. Javier’s per-pitch whiff rate checked in 11th among that group.
Javier now carries a 3.05 ERA with a 30.9% strikeout percentage through 304 1/3 career innings of regular season action. That production was certainly eye-opening on its own, though he perhaps firmly put himself on the national radar last fall. Entrusted with a start in Game Four of the World Series with his club down 2-1, Javier outpitched Aaron Nola with six innings of no-hit ball and nine strikeouts. A trio of relievers closed out the second no-hitter in World Series history and evened a series which Houston would go on to take in six games.
Obviously, Houston’s long-term belief in Javier goes well beyond that one performance. He’s among the game’s best young pitchers at missing bats. That’s been particularly true against right-handed batters, who have struck out in 36.6% of plate appearances while hitting .143/.231/.304 against him over his MLB career. Lefties have had a little more success, working walks at an 11.1% clip with a .212/.307/.369 line, but haven’t fared particularly well themselves.
The free passes against southpaws hint at fine but unexceptional control. Javier has walked 10.1% of opponents in his career and handed out free passes at a slightly higher than average 8.9% clip last season. He’s not a pinpoint control artist but has thrown more than enough strikes considering his ability to miss bats. He’s also one of the sport’s more extreme fly-ball pitchers. That led to some home runs issues early in his career but wasn’t a problem in 2022, when he allowed just over one longball per nine innings. That was on the strength of a minuscule 9.1% HR/FB rate he’s not likely to sustain, and homer issues could be at least a modest concern moving forward.
Even if Javier doesn’t replicate a 2.54 ERA annually, his first couple seasons demonstrate he’s capable of keeping runs off the board with a few round-trippers mixed in. The Astros now have Javier and Lance McCullers Jr. signed for the extended future (McCullers through 2026, Javier through ’27). Framber Valdez is arbitration-eligible through 2025, as is José Urquidy. Luis Garcia has yet to reach arbitration and won’t hit free agency until following the 2026 campaign. Top prospect Hunter Brown, meanwhile, just reached the majors late last year and is controllable until at least the 2028-29 offseason.
That controllable rotation should position the Astros to stretch their run of success well into the decade. It’s possible more deals are coming, as the new GM has already gone on record about a desire to lock up multiple key players on long-term extensions. That has been an organizational emphasis for the Braves, in whose front office Brown worked before landing the Houston GM job two weeks ago. It hasn’t taken long for him to bring that philosophy to Houston, and while Brown candidly implied yesterday that a Javier deal was likely to be the first one coming, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be the last one that gets done.
Former GM James Click had already extended Yordan Alvarez through 2028 last summer. Star outfielder Kyle Tucker (arb-eligible through 2025) and infielders Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve (both under contract for two more seasons) are among the other players whom Brown has expressed a desire to keep around.
The Javier deal won’t have a huge impact on the club’s 2023 payroll. He and the team had been slated to go to an arbitration hearing that would’ve seen him earn either $3MM or $3.5MM for this season. Factoring in the signing bonus adds $1.5MM – $2MM to the club’s ledger this year. Houston’s payroll now sits around $193MM, as calculated by Roster Resource. That’s above last year’s estimated $174MM season0opening mark but not a dramatic spike for a franchise coming off a World Series win.
The extension has a more notable impact on the club’s luxury tax calculation. A deal’s average annual value counts against a team’s CBT ledger. Javier’s now at $12.8MM from a CBT perspective, bringing Houston’s projected tax number around $218MM. That leaves them about $15MM shy of the $233MM base threshold.
The following $7MM and $10MM salaries reflect reasonable enough assumptions about how Javier’s payments might have escalated over his final two arbitration seasons. Houston’s $21MM annual payments for his two would-be free agent years, however, mark a step up in this service bracket. Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara signed a five-year extension that guaranteed $56MM last winter, the largest deal ever for a pitcher with between three and fours year of service. That was before Alcantara exploded for a Cy Young-winning 2022 season but he was coming off a 3.19 ERA showing over 205 2/3 innings and had twice topped 30 starts in a season.
That Javier broke the record for his service group is impressive enough, though his camp’s stronger victory on the deal was in the absence of any club options at contract’s end. Alcantara’s extension came with a $21MM team option for a sixth season. Carlos Martínez, who had the second-largest guarantee among starters in the service class at $51MM, surrendered two team options. Nola agreed to one option in his $45MM deal over the 2018-19 offseason.
Javier didn’t need to do so. He secures his first life-changing guarantee and set the record for pitchers in the service bracket while still remaining in strong position for a strong free agent deal down the line. Javier is scheduled to hit free agency after his age-30 campaign, when a six-plus year contract would be on the table if he continues to perform as a borderline top-of-the-rotation starter.
The Astros don’t secure the extent of the long-term upside that’s typically present on extensions of this nature. They do tack on two more years of Javier’s services and the $21MM annual salary would be below his free agent market value if he stays healthy and performs at the level he has to this point in his career. Houston has arguably the sport’s best roster already and has taken another step towards extending that window with core players. Given the aggressiveness with which their new GM hammered out his first significant deal, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were more on the horizon.
Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle first reported Javier was guaranteed $64MM, including a $2MM signing bonus, and that the deal didn’t contain any option years. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the yearly salary breakdown. Robert Murray of FanSided reported the presence of awards bonuses and escalators, with the Associated Press providing specifics on the bonus structure.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
What a nice first signing by Dana Brown. Javier was downright unhittable at the end of last season and this locks up two of his free agency years. I love it for the Astros!
He’s been unhittable his whole career with the Astros, they just didn’t give him a solid chance til halfway through last season. No looking back now, great pitcher!
Joey Bart Future MVP
Los Astros sign another Spanish speaker to a long term deal. They should change their name to the Dominican national team.
For Love of the Game
Do you have a problem with this?
Joey Bart Future MVP
I’m not jealous and don’t have a problem with it. I’m just pointing it out to Rocker49 because he likes to make fun of teams for having Hispanic fans, while his favorite team is made up of many players of Spanish descent. I find it funny and one of life’s little ironies. Seeing a racist like Rocker root for players of other races makes me happy.
Well, in baseball terms, Rocker = racism…
Someone should tell Kumar.
Overblown by the media
Astros just secured a very important extension for the future with C.Javier
Now they must renew Tucker and Valdez and if they can still Altuve and Bregman
This seems like a very good deal for Houston. Javier has the talent to command close to $30M per year as a free agent so the fact that they signed him for $64M over 5 years, including 2 free agent years seems like a very good value for the team. With that said, I can see why Javier signed the deal. He hasn’t made much money up to this point in his career and he now has a life-changing income guaranteed to him regardless of how he performs or how healthy he remains. Plus he’ll be a free agent at age 31 that will allow him to sign another big deal ($100M+) so long as he remains healthy and dominant.
A lot of international kids are extremely poor. They love their families and this kind of money makes them heroes. I’m not turning down that money when I can feed and safekeep my family for generations. The Braves pretty much created this new market inefficiency
Actually it was the Cleveland Indians way back when in the 1990’s.
Astros Hot Takes
yep, was remembering that myself – with all that talent, they should have had a longer run
Totally agree. Those Cleveland teams were some of the best I saw built. So much talent.
I was doing a lot of business out near Cleveland in that time frame. I have never seen fans so upset with a teardown than the Cleveland fans. It was too early to sell with that core according to them, but sell they did.
The fanbase turned on them in a huge way and they held a grudge for a LONG time. Lifelong Indians fans just walked away from their season tickets in droves. They were a steady 3 to 3.5M fans per year, and afterwards they have only hit 2M a couple of times, even though they have competitive teams. Last year – 1.3M
Ole John Hart in CLE…who again started doing it in ATL — then it all blew up when Coppalella was left with the smoking gun.
In all honesty you can’t blame them – they were competing with the 90s Yankees dynasty and nobody was going to derail that train. Ah, the good days.
Now we’re stuck with losing to the Astros each year and making excuses for the losses – “roof was open, DJ was injured, Cole was tired, Hicks didn’t eat enough fiber, it was a crapshoot and could’ve gone either way”….. yuck.
I’m still salty about the Joba’s midges.
Locking up Alvarez, Javier and possibly Tucker now. That’s called an efficient front office.
“Hicks didn’t eat enough fiber.”—Priceless!
Good for him….he even got a singing bonus….I bet he has been pretty vocal about that….I’m like geez he can pitch and sing….I bet Ohtani can’t do that….
I wonder if he does his own walk up music? Singing himself out on to the field at the beginning of each inning…that would be awesome.
You want Ohtani to hit and pitch and ALSO sing the national anthem?
For what Ohtani is getting paid, he should be selling popcorn between innings and sweeping up after the game.
I never made over $200,000 in a season… I wouldn’t say I’m bitter… it’s more like… I’m… Mother-Fu(#ing-shi#-fu(#ing-Fu(#-Fu(#-Shi#-Fu(#ing upset.
Now it’s Framber’s turn..
Great move for Houston.
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Astros Hot Takes
oh my gosh I love this team now go get Yuli back
There is no room for Yuli and Houston shouldn’t resign him. Yes, he was a great Astro and fan favorite, but he’s past his prime. The fact that not a single team has signed him at this stage is proof of that. I wish him the best of luck and thank him for his service.
Money talks.. and sings.
Feel like McCormick would be a perfect candidate for something like this. Signed for nothing, has put up 2 pretty good seasons but still a guy who isn’t going to be handed anything. Not sure what would get it done. Maybe 6/$36m ?
We love Chaz but he doesn’t fit the bill. These extensions are for core players. Chaz has like 4 more years of control and is easily replaceable when he’s no longer cheap.
Where can we listen to his records?
This young man that’s arguably now the Astros #1 pitcher signed for 3 arbitration years remaining and plus 2 of his free agent years. Total $64m.
Bryan Reynolds of the Pirates was offered (I believe) “over $75m” for 3 of his arbitration years pus 3 of his free agent years.
Reynolds offer was supposedly an ‘insult”, not in the ballpark, and his agents want well over $100m.
He wants to be traded.
Javier and Reynolds are similar service time, and while Reynolds is 2 years older, he’s also much more established over a similar timeframe. I’d say Reynolds deserves more money and the Pirates can’t spend it.
Astro for life ! His post season pitching for his ace status will carry them far. The new GM is already paying dividends. Great signing.
“The deal, which buys out his three seasons of arbitration eligibility and two free agent years, contains a $2MM singing bonus. There are no options in the contract, according to Rome.”
Wow didn’t realize he was such a good singer!!
It’s the largest singing bonus on record!
Astros Hot Takes
I like how every time I click on this story, there is an additional paragraph of how awesome he is, and “more to come” down at the bottom
On the other hand, this article was incredibly long. I gave up somewhere around how close to the luxury tax the team was.
“We felt he was a perfect candidate…”
Translation: 1. Came from a poor country/family. 2. Didn’t receive a large signing bonus. 3. Doesn’t have Scott Boras as his agent. 4. Was signable for what the team feels is a bargain.
C Yards Jeff
Probably no “no trade” clause in deal. Bulk of money on back end. If Stros find themselves in a rebuild in 26 or 27 (not all good things last forever … even in Houston), Javier is that trade piece that brings back high end prospects … plus a salary dump. I see what you did there Houston. Dawg!
They will not be rebuilding in 26. They will still own the west in 3 years.
He counts just over $12M AAV for luxury tax purposes. Even if they take a step back, there is no reason to think they’ll rebuild, and even if they do, his AAV isn’t a soul-crushing amount for a contending team. Owners of high spenders care more about the AAV than they do the actual salary being paid.
C Yards Jeff
Agreed, AAV not soul crushing. My “salary dump” view, in hindsight, was a little strong. That said; if the wheels do fall off the Stros cart on the back end of this deal and he is healthy, quality of young talent they get back in a trade is significant.
Thomas E Snyder
Houston, we don’t have a problem here…
Great extension for team, player and fans!
I love it. Please extend Kyle Tucker.
Going to be really tough to top the Astros during this window
It’s the extension time of year! Extensions for everyone! Hurry before Tommy John Surgery season starts!
This one belongs to the Reds
Smart. If Cincy had done that with Castillo and Mahle a couple of years back, their staff would be enviable right now.
I seriously am beginning to think Nick Krall sleeps with the fishes
This is a a solid deal for the stros, and Javier has the luxury of knowing that he has guaranteed life changing money! Will never have to work again in his life.
You guys all see that DR WBC roster Javier is on? Holy hell, man.
Yeah, I would think that the DR will be the favorites to win the WBC. That team is completely stacked with talent! Japan always seems to play well in the WBC too. It’s too bad the USA doesn’t take the WBC too seriously. The US could field an exceptional club if they really wanted to.
Big difference is that many of those players from outside the US are true nationalists, therefore it’s an incredible honor for them to represent their flag. Americans largely are not, especially when talking about professional athletes.
MGM has DR as the clear favorite @ +200
US behind them @ +250
Followed by Japan @ +350
Then a big drop to Puerto Rico (who could be sneaky) @ +900
DR is sooooo stacked!!! They might score 10 runs per game. Pitching is filthy too.
USA has a strong lineup, but it seems like the pitching is not on the same tier. I think Cole pitched last time. I wish they had some Max Scherzer for this tournament. And where are all the Lefty bats? Cedric Mullins gonna have to get all the secrets he can from bench coach Ken Griffey Jr!
During prospect ranking season, just keep in mind, Javier was a consensus 35+/40, across the board, even with a year or two of low minors performance already in the books.
It doesn’t really matter if your favorite team’s minor league system is ranked number 14 or number 23 at a particular snapshot in time.
Why can’t the Doyers ever do something like this?
Good Lord, that was a long article!
You can start a sentence with meanwhile, you know. It is allowed.
This reminded me of the old Justice League cartoon: “Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice.”
deGrom Texas Ranger
Those numbers seem perfectly aligned with what he likely would make in arb and free agency, with perhaps a 15-20% discount in free agency, but they don’t have to commit as many years past his prime as they would in free agency (think 9 years for Gerrit Cole). I love this deal.
Yeah, and it also helps with the luxury tax payroll those final 2 years as the AAV is just slightly over $12M.
Glad to hear that the Astros got Cristian Javier got to be wearing a Astros jersey for a long time
Great deal by the Astro’s. As much as I hate they run their organization top tier. Also I may be biased since Javier very much helped me win fantasy last year haha
That he even made the majors given that modest starting point is a testament to his progression and the Astros’ strong pitcher development staff
Sums it up well. Any other team that lost Cole and Verlander within a 5 yr window would have a hollowed out staff. They just get better.
Anthony, I am already questioning my memory, then “… Javier outpitched Aaron Nola with six innings of no-hit ball and nine strikeouts. A trio of relievers closed out the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history…”
Wasn’t that the third? Or does Larsen’s or Halliday’s not count for some reason?
Two additional years beyond the arbitration years. Nice for both sides, but not a particularly game-changing signing like many of the Braves deals were. If he’s as good as he appeared last year, he has a massive payday still to come.
This guy is freakishly good. You have a better chance at taking a walk than getting a hit.. but you will most likely just strikeout. I wouldn’t worry to much about HRs
Wasn’t he the odd man out in the playoffs too?
In the playoffs he was the #4 starter and in 2 starts, totaling 11.1 innings, he gave up the total of one, count ’em, 1 hit. His last 11 starts, 9 during the season and the 2 in the playoffs were incredible. 58.1 innings and 21 hits allowed.. He has looked virtually unhittable every time I have seen him and look forward to seeing what is to come.
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Glad the Stros locked him up. Now they have to do the same with Framber Valdez and Kyle Tucker. And then extend Bregman and Altuve. Dana Brown seems to be intent to do so, I’m really glad he’s actively pursuing.
Good signing as it gives the Astros two additional years. Javier locks in some money in case of an arm injury, but I believe he can still be a free agent at 3o.