Astros general manager Dana Brown has provided frequent updates throughout Spring Training regarding the club’s extension discussions with a number of players. After Houston got a deal done with Cristian Javier early in the spring, Brown expressed varying levels of optimism about the chances of productive talks with the likes of Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve.
Over the past few days, however, Brown has cast doubt on any short-term agreements with Tucker or Valdez. He pointed to yesterday afternoon as a loose target date for extensions with either player (though he clarified it wasn’t an official deadline before cutting talks). No deal has materialized, and Brown similarly indicated it’s unlikely there’ll be any forthcoming contracts with Bregman or Altuve.
Speaking with Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, the first-year GM pointed to next offseason as a likelier target for deals with either player. “It’s probably going to be more like next year,” Brown said. “We made it clear that we want to keep them both around. This is part of getting through (2025), getting to (2026), some more time to replenish the system without overhauling the roster.”
While Brown didn’t walk back any comments from earlier in exhibition play, it’s a departure from some of the enthusiasm he’d expressed a few weeks ago. He’d told reporters in mid-February the club was hoping to make both Altuve and Bregman career-long Astros. The GM indicated at the time that he’d said as much to agent Scott Boras, who represents both players.
Of course, putting talks on the back-burner doesn’t rule that out for either player. Both Altuve and Bregman have already signed early-career extensions (two, in the former’s case) and remain under contract for two more years. Altuve will make $26MM in each of the next couple seasons, while Bregman is due $28.5MM annually through 2024.
Altuve is trending towards the open market in advance of his age-35 season. He’s not yet shown any signs of slowing down, as he’s coming off one of the best years of his career. He hit .300/.387/.533 with 28 home runs, a career-best 10.9% walk rate and an excellent 14.4% strikeout percentage in 604 plate appearances. Outside of the 60-game schedule, Altuve has remained one of the sport’s top offensive players.
Bregman is slated to hit free agency headed into his age-31 campaign. His bat has taken a step back from its MVP-caliber level of 2018-19, but he’s remained a well above-average hitter. Bregman is coming off a .259/.366/.454 line with 23 longballs and more walks than strikeouts (13.3% versus 11.7%) through 656 trips to the dish. Few hitters can match that control of the strike zone, and Bregman generally pairs that consistently strong offense with plus defensive marks at third base.
The Astros head into the 2023 campaign with a luxury tax payroll calculated by Roster Resource around $218MM. That’s about $15MM shy of the base threshold. Houston has once paid the CBT, going narrowly above the mark in 2020. They have a little over $100MM in estimated CBT commitments by the 2025 campaign, when new deals for Altuve and/or Bregman would ostensibly begin.
Tucker and Valdez will each be in their final season of arbitration eligibility that year barring extensions. Brown and owner Jim Crane could be faced with some difficult decisions a year or two down the line, though the club is in very strong shape for the immediate future. Of the current roster, only veterans Michael Brantley and Martín Maldonado and relievers Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek are headed towards free agency next winter.
Both Bregman and Altuve will be heading into their final season on current contracts if the Astros wait one more season. History says there is no discount price at that point. With Altuve, they should be legitimately concerned about age-related decline. My guess is both become free agents and leave the Astros.
Thomas E Snyder
My guess is that they remain Astros for life.
Altuve will only stay if he takes less than what he could get on the open market. Bergman makes a lot of sense to give an extension to although Jim Crane isn’t an idiot and won’t massively overpay.
Any extension with Altuve will be an overpay. He’s a Boras client. At his age, Altuve is becoming a slap hitter. Bregman is an elite 3B.
I don’t like to guess and don’t have any information on the players intent. They aren’t playing for min wage so if they leave, thank you for the comp pick and the nice amount of $ to find replacements or address other needs. I wouldn’t loose any sleep trying to get an extension done with a Boras client. Especially not one who is going to be a 35 year old 2b free agent.
@lord – agree 100%. And if you look at the agents for all four mentioned, Altuve and Bregman and represented by Boras, which won’t come cheap or offer discounts. Altuve is on the wrong side of his career right now, as witnessed my his speed decline in SBs and triples. Still a solid player, but slowly turning into the player that doesn’t age well, especially for a contract I’m sure he’ll be looking for.
Is this gonna be like the Machado ordeal?
What’s the Machado ordeal?
You know, the Machado Ordeal when that banana republic dictator was deposed, leading to the Revolutionary forces led a coup and the US conducted a naval blockade.
Saying no extension talks now gonna focus on playing then signs and extension.
Well obv both sides kept their phonelines open. It’s still ST and it got done. Nobody got bootyhurt in the process and everyone goes home happy.
Wow someone lied! I am shocked. Common in life and even more so in mlb. How many deadlines passed where if the labor dispute wasn’t settled there wouldn’t be a full season? Yet there was a full season.
History says they’ll be cheaters for life
You sound like my 5 ex wives.
Cheaters with two rings and a luxury apartment in your head, rent free, for life.
Loser. Probably a Yankees fan.
It’s not a bad outcome if both players walk. That’s preferable to toxic contracts.
With the Astros firm philosophy of avoiding longer term deals (7-10 yrs), the answer could be a higher AAV over the shorter term. While fiscal responsibility is necessary for future roster flexibility, it seems like the hurdle here isn’t the money, but the years. Contrary to some of the comments here, IMO it would be crushing to lose Altuve as the face of the franchise or Bregman for his massive baseball IQ and elite level of play. Not that I’d want to lose Tucker, but eh not so much.
Altuve will be 35 at the end of the deal. How many elite years will he have left?
As for Bregman, the floor is actually pretty low. He’s had multiple average years and his body is already banged up. If they Astros have to pay for his ceiling, that contract is too risky to sign.
Tucker makes sense for the longterm deal, but the Astros are loaded with OF prospects. They probably won’t be as good as him, but the outfield future looks great with or without him.
The pair should stand to receive several trashcans full of money from the Astros.
If the Astros knocked on the Mets door and offered Bregman for Baty and McNeil, there would be plenty of $$$ for Tucker and others to maintain the foundation while getting younger in the process. Allows them to move on from Altuve if he decides to leave, otherwise they at least have a backup plan he knows of if he did want to stay. Provides the Stros with some leverage if he truly would want to remain with them.