First-year Astros general manager Dana Brown took control of the front office on the eve of Spring Training, an atypically late GM hire. With the club’s offseason business mostly taken care of, he immediately turned his attention toward keeping some key players who are already on the roster.
Houston already extended Cristian Javier through 2027. Brown has spoken about seeking out long-term deals for Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman in recent weeks. He added star southpaw Framber Valdez to the mix, telling reporters yesterday the club had been in touch with the representatives for both Valdez and Tucker (link via Associated Press). Meanwhile, Brown stated he’s frankly told agent Scott Boras, who represents both Altuve and Bregman, the duo “should be in Houston for life.”
It’s a fairly quick turn of events with regards to Valdez, in particular. The hurler’s agent Ulises Cabrera told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday he’d yet to have any conversations with the club. Brown predictably didn’t divulge specifics in negotiations and there’s nothing to suggest talks have made any notable progress within the first few days. Nevertheless, it’s unsurprising confirmation the team would like to keep Valdez around.
He’s already under club control through 2025 via arbitration. Valdez will make $6.8MM for the upcoming season and is likely to land a pair of solid raises if he goes annually through that process. The 29-year-old is coming off the best year of his career, one in which he secured a fifth-place finish in AL Cy Young balloting thanks to a 2.82 ERA and incredible 66.5% grounder percentage through 201 1/3 innings.
Altuve and Bregman, of course, have been career-long Astros. The former has twice signed long-term extensions with Houston, with the most recent of those deals coming during Spring Training in 2018. That $151MM contract runs through 2024, paying him $26MM annually over the next couple seasons. The deal runs through his age-34 season. Altuve hasn’t yet shown any signs of tailing off, as he’s coming off a .300/.387/.533 showing with 28 home runs.
Bregman inked a $100MM extension a year after Altuve signed his second deal. He’s making $28.5MM in both of the next two seasons and also tracking towards free agency during the 2024-25 offseason. The former second overall pick would reach the market in advance of his age-31 campaign if he doesn’t sign an intervening extension. Bregman played at an MVP-caliber level between 2018-19; he’s “merely” been excellent over the few years since then, including a .259/.366/.454 line with more walks than strikeouts last year.
With all of these players under guaranteed contract or arbitration control for at least two more years, Brown and his staff don’t need to get anything done in the next six weeks. Houston’s list of upcoming free agents is comparatively modest: catcher Martín Maldonado, outfielder Michael Brantley and relievers Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek. Houston already has José Abreu, Lance McCullers Jr., Yordan Alvarez, Rafael Montero and Javier on eight-figure contracts for the 2025 season.