The Astros have spent the past few weeks attempting to work out extensions with a number of key players. Outfielder Kyle Tucker and starting pitcher Framber Valdez are among those with whom the club has been in contact, though the New York Post’s Jon Heyman now casts some doubt on the chances of either player signing this spring.
Astros GM Dana Brown tells Heyman the club expects to know whether anything will transpire within the next 48 hours. Brown frankly tells Heyman the team is “further away (in negotiations) with Tucker” than Valdez but didn’t handicap the odds of getting a deal done with either player.
Teammate Yordan Alvarez represents one potential comparison point in discussions with Tucker, who has between three and four years of service time. The slugger signed a six-year, $115MM deal just last June, agreeing to a fairly rare midseason extension of significance. Alvarez technically was just shy of three years of service at the time of signing but inked a deal that didn’t go into effect until this year. For all intents and purposes, he was essentially in the same service bucket as Tucker now finds himself.
Alvarez is a better hitter than Tucker and one of the best offensive players in baseball. His career wRC+ of 164 trails only Mike Trout among active players with at least 1500 plate appearances. However, he’s also had some knee issues and been mostly limited to designated hitter, with only part-time work in left field. Tucker, by contrast, is an excellent defensive right fielder.
Alvarez’s deal was the second-largest for a player in the 3-4 year service window. The record still belongs to Freddie Freeman, who signed an eight-year, $135MM deal with the Braves ahead of the 2014 season. Freeman was a year younger than Tucker is now and coming off a stronger platform season. However, that deal is a decade old at this point and Tucker’s camp could look to beat that pact. However, such a deal would be the longest deal in Astros history and the second richest, with only Jose Altuve’s $151MM guarantee surpassing it.
Brown indicated that Tucker is seeking out a longer-term deal than the Astros have historically given out. For his part, the GM seems to have little interest in breaking that organizational tradition, telling Heyman, “I understand that [avoidance of long-term deals], and I respect that. A lot of those long-term deals, they don’t end well.”
Given this, it’s no surprise that Astros brass seems to feel better about their odds of extending Valdez. The southpaw can also look to a teammate as a direct extension comp. In his case, it’s righty Cristian Javier, who signed a five-year, $64MM pact last month. That represented the largest guarantee for a starting pitcher with between three and four years of service time.
It’s fair to expect Valdez’s camp would want to top that mark. Javier’s track record pales in comparison to that of Valdez; while both pitchers sport a 3.05 ERA since the start of the 2020 season, Valdez’s 3.34 FIP outshines Javier’s figure of 3.90 while the lefty also has volume on his side. Valdez has thrown 406 2/3 innings since the start of the 2020 campaign, more than a hundred ahead of Javier, and his career best 201 1/3 innings in 2022 have the look of a modern-day workhorse. Javier, by contrast, recorded a seventh inning out just twice during the 2022 season.
That’s partially reflected in Valdez’s better earning power in arbitration. He’s set to make $6.8MM for the upcoming season, whereas Javier was headed for a first-year arbitration salary around $3MM. Valdez, as a Super Two qualifier over the 2021-22 offseason, also had an extra season of arbitration eligibility to build that stronger platform salary. That gap would’ve compounded on an annual basis considering arbitration salaries are based in part on a player’s previous-year salary.
Javier, who celebrates his 26th birthday later this month, had youth on his side in signing that extension compared to Valdez. The southpaw is already 29. That perhaps makes Javier a cleaner long-term bet from the team’s perspective, though it also puts more of a premium for Valdez on securing a lofty guarantee if he’s to sign an extension. While Javier will still get to free agency shortly before turning 31, Valdez would be signing away at least his age-32 season (and perhaps beyond) in any deal that buys out free agent seasons.
Both Valdez and Tucker are controllable through the end of the 2025 season, given the club ample time to revisit contract talks in the future, even if no extensions get done in Brown’s proposed 48-hour window. With that being said, Brown could certainly continue attempting to extend the stay of either Alex Bregman or Altuve in Houston once negotiations with Tucker and Valdez have been tabled. Both veterans are set to become free agents following the 2024 season, meaning there will be far more urgency in locking up that pair of players going forward, particularly once the 2023 season has drawn to a close. The GM has already expressed a desire to retain both players, saying he’d like to keep both in Houston for the entirety of their careers.
Well that’s really just too damn bad. Guess they’ll have to get rid of them
There is still time to extend them.
Tucker is so good, man. One of the smoothest players in baseball. He’s right up there with Yordan on SODOMOJO’s most hated. And yet, how can you not appreciate how good he is? He seems underrated.
Yordan is a whole tier above Tucker if anything Tucker is overrated
Oh at the plate for sure. Then you factor in that Tuck is fantastic defensively and Yordan is godawful. I mean, I’ll take Yordan over Tuck any day of the week don’t get me wrong.
Yordan isn’t even bad in the field -5 OAA last year but 5 DRS and positive UZR
For a little context between the two players defensively;
Kyle Tucker: 15 outs above average for his career according to stat cast
Yordan: -10 outs above average for his career according to stat cast
-10 outs BELOW average
A double negative isn’t proper grammar
It would be 10 outs below average, Einstein
Welp, thank god we have you to save the grammatical sanctity of this post. Salutations!
Not like you were the first guy trying to be the grammar police or anything outlandish
No, Tucker is not overrated, and is very close to Yordan in overall ability.
Only one other Astros player had over 20hr/20sb/100rbis – that player was Jeff Bagwell. Given that he’s a 5 tool player, he’s above Yordan and will get more money.
They should try and extend these players now they are just gonna get more expensive and less likely to sign long term, but thats the owners way of operating hes let stars walk before just to replace em with future stars
They are trying. Not giving a 40 year old 120 million or a ss with a metal plate in his leg 300 million were the safe way to go. 150 million is better spent elsewhere instead on a 30 something corner outfielder. No reason to give guys under control free agent money.
Iam not disagreeing with you, i think the guys they let walk was smart. I think tucker would sign for a contract that both sides would be happy with if houston would give him the length he wants hes 25 now so lock him up for the next ten. He ahould age well.
I would want to extend them and they are trying. But unless you are SD NY you can’t extend everyone. Lock up anyone who wants security. If they want free agent money you move on to the next wave of talent and see if they will take a discount. I wouldn’t let years stop me for the right price. Braves did it although Olsen Riley pushed it to the max. I wouldn’t have gone any further.
Also if this who framber is going forward it would be smart to get ahead of things a bit. I get it he aint costing much right now. Asof right now hes there ace and i hope they can get something worked out and he sticks around hes fun to watch.
but thats the owners way of operating hes let stars walk before just to replace
I didn’t realize that the Astros owner worked that way. I thought he was all about extending guys like Bregman, Altuve, McCullers, Alvarez, Javier, etc.
Nice to know that he lets his stars walk before extending them.
I guess springer, correa and cole were just a bunch of slouches huh.
Then shouldn’t your statement be “he ‘occasionally’ lets stars walk’.?
As it stands, your statement implies that he allows everyone to leave.
They wanted a much longer contract. BTW, I’d say none of them have been worth the contract they got.
I’m sure Tucker wants his contract to look less like the Alvarez contract and more like the Riley contract – as in the first of the nine numbers has to be a 2…
Cheater franchise forever
As is your favorite team
Sit down and grab your box of tissues. It’s time I tell you about the history of baseball
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
How original! I’ve never ever heard someone say that on an Astros article on MLBTR! Given that your name has Kewl, dood and 69 in it I assume that you are 12. Calm down son, your mother and I will let you know when the orange slices and juice box are ready.
Keep beating that dead horse, loser.
This is hilarious….
Thanks primarily to the desperation of Steven Cohen, Peter Seidler, and the owners of the Rangers; the contracts handed out this past off-season have convinced players with their 6 years in that every single one of them is underpaid. No one wants to sign an extension, because they’re convinced that within a year they could have gotten 50% more if they’d just held on. And if they don’t get that money in free agency their players union will cry “Conspiracy! Collusion!!”.
The small market teams are the ones that have adjusted. They’ve grown used to the fact that they can’t keep players for more than a year or two – if that – after their 6 years are in, and have prioritized developing young players they find in the draft, waiver wire, DFA’s, etc.
Even large revenue teams such as the NY Yankees have learned that they can’t pay 15 guys on their roster $30m on a long-term contract where their skills diminish and they get injured for longer periods of time. The LA Dodgers are cutting back on payroll (sure, they’re lining up to give Ohtani and Soto $500m-plus).
Bally’s failure is being poo-pooed as cord-cutting. That’s only a part of the problem. Reading here people say that potential owners are lining up to buy MLB franchises and will pay any price. The reality is that 2 franchises were up for sale in the past year and couldn’t get sold. Meanwhile the scuttlebutt going around is that the owner of the Mets figures he’ll lose $200m this year and doesn’t care – and the Padres owner says he can’t take the money with him, so he’s spending on his toy. Some fans and writers think that’s wonderful. The problem is that almost all of the existing owners aren’t in it to lose money, and groups investigating purchasing an MLB franchise are not going to buy in to lose money.
There’s a phrase when markets overheat – “Frothy”. It signals that either a correction or a crash is imminent.
John Henry and a few other large market owners are smarter than what fans and many media people believe. They’re not being obstinate. When the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are slowly pulling back the rate growth of their payrolls, it’s because they have access to some very smart financial people that give them guidance.
Words are meaningless.
Follow the money.
1-The NYY are still #2 in payroll, so their pullback is not much. The RS are probably waiting to see if they can compete before spending money at the deadline. And the LAD are simply resetting for payroll tax purposes.
2-With Cohen & Seidler, they might be investing for the future. Cohen is supposedly looking for a casino on his grounds. If SD can get their attendance > 3M, with an accompanying increase in viewership, the increase in equity value can easily cover a couple of years of losses.
I think the cognitive dissonance comes when some of these teams miss the playoff payoff they are expecting,. Between the NYM, Philly, LAD & SDP, three+ of those teams will miss the WS, 2+ of them will miss the NLCS, and maybe one might even miss the playoffs altogether.
Kyle Tucker is 26 years old and will reach free agency at age 29. His free agent contract could be a record setter.
Tucker isn’t represented by Boras, so the Astros have a chance to extend him, but they’re going to have to really step up to the plate to get it done.
The Astros owner wont let any contracts more than 5 years it seems. Tucker just watched Benintendi and Castellanos, who are pretty easily not as good as Tucker, both get 5 years. He’ll walk
Good points otherwise, but I’m not sure a record setting deal is in the cards for a 5 win corner guy, and that’s only been over two seasons, thus far. Would I commit to 5/125m for his age 29-33 seasons? Absolutely. But, say, 10/300m for age 29-38?
Austin Riley’s probably a respectable comp (though Riley’s the more valuable player)–didn’t Riley have three seasons of team control remaining when the Braves extended him? And that was through his age 36 season, and for around $212m. I can see the Astros (or a team prone to longer deals than the Astros) doing a deal of the same length but for roughly $175m, given Tucker’s in the tier below Riley.
If they ate able to work out an extension and it happens to be 10 years, it would be ages 27-36 not 29-38 which makes a huge difference.
Also I realize you are stating what you would agree to but a 5 yr contract – age 33 season would have a higher, not lower AAV than a 10 yr deal – age 38.
Part of this is that no MLB player wants to be a free agent in their mid thirties.
Tucker is projected for a huge deal if he hits FA at 29 but if he signs an extension that only covers 3-7 FA years he is not a FA until 32+ and much much smaller contract offers.
A 10 yr deal and he is signed until late 30s and has already made his big money.
Tucker was the only 30-25 guy in baseball last year and he earned a gold glove, and that was at age 25. He will get even better. I’ll bet he’s in the middle of the AL MVP conversation for 2023.
Riley’s not that far ahead of Tucker in batting but on running and fielding Tucker is much better. About a 0.7 fWAR difference.
Preller about to call Kyle’s agent and tell him “well, Preston likes it over here. Sounds like Kyle needs a real contract.’
Hard to see why they’d want to (likely) overpay for the remainder of Altuve’s decline unless he wants to offer options, vesting this and that, and add’l forms of injury protection for the club. Altuve will be 35 once his current deal concludes—he’s nowhere near his 2016-17 peak, and betting on his age 35 and up seasons when he’s currently 32 doesn’t make a ton of sense unless the arrangement is very favorable to the Astros.
Would you even want to spot him 2/$40m for 2026-27, his age 35-36 seasons, without a couple of option years at say $12m apiece with no buyout? How likely is he, really, to still be a competent starting 2Bman in 2026-27, giving you 5 wins over those two seasons?
Granted fangraphs loves him a lot more than BB-Ref, and sees him as much closer to his prime, but Altuve’s only a 135 game a year guy since the end of 2018, and that won’t be getting better as he reaches his mid to late 30s.
I agree with much of what you say, except: “nowhere near his 2016-2017 peak”
Your values are just too low for this market.
His OPS was the 5th best in all of baseball in 2022 and his OPS+ tied a career high.
He needs to be an Astro for life and I think he will be.
The team should sign him to a 3 yr deal for $75M plus a player option for $13M.
Signed for ages 35-37 and total control over the option for 38. AAV of $22M.
The Rangers paid Beltre $18 million per season for his final three seasons, and he was worth every penny. I believe the Astros should view Altuve in the same manner.
He had his highest WRC+ since 2017 when he was MVP. I’ll take that if you consider that a decline!
How many times can two MLBTR writers say “by contrast” in an article?