The Astros Extend Jose Altuve… Again

The Astros have reportedly come to an agreement on a second extension for their second baseman, and the reigning AL MVP, Jose Altuve. Only, this time, Altuve did not sign as cheaply.

The reported five-year, $151-millon deal will begin in 2020, or Altuve’s age-30 season.

Entering the 2014 season, the Astros signed Altuve to a pre-arb buyout deal that included two club options. At the time, it was unclear if the undersized Altuve would ever become more than a high-contact, low-power second baseman.

He was coming off an uninspiring season that included a .283/.316/.363 slash line, an 84 wRC+, and 0.7 WAR. Over three full seasons, the maybe 5-foot-6 dynamo had compiled just over two wins. The four-year, $12.5 millon deal with club options — options which, when exercised, will make it a six-year, $23.2 millon pact — seemed like a reasonable deal.

Since signing that agreement, however, Altuve has been excellent, recording a batting line at least 20% better than league average in four consecutive seasons — including a 151 and 160 wRC+ in the last two campaigns, respectively. As soon as Altuve traded upside for security, he became a star.

Altuve ranks third in WAR since the start of the 2014 season.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

Altuve has continued to evolve, now exhibiting once unthinkable power, including consecutive 20-plus-homer seasons. He’s produced 26.2 WAR to date and cost the club only $12.7 million. It’s one of the great club-friendly deals of our time.

But now, Altuve is rightly going to be paid like a star.

The contract will rank 31st all-time in total dollars. While it’s possible Altuve could earn more should he wait and hit the open market — while it’s possible he could earn Robinson Cano money — he’s again trading in some upside for security in the event he sustains a serious injury or suffers premature decline. But he will be paid more closely to his true value, even if the deal might still provide surplus value for the club.

Altuve has been one of the most durable players in the game. The contract is not unlike the second extension to which the Rays and Evan Longoria agreed after Longoria had been playing on an absurdly undervalued deal. The Astros are also taking on some level of risk.

Still, Altuve and the Astros should stick together. They’ve grown up together. They’ve tanked together. They’ve come of age and won a World Series together. And while this website rarely emphasizes the importance of counting numbers, it would be kind of cool to see Altuve and the Astros reach 3,000 hits together.

He enters 2018 with 1,250 career hits. He’s posted four straight seasons of at least 200. He’ll be under club control for seven more years, according to the report. At 200 hits per season, he could be close to the magic hit number by the close of this second extension. Maybe that will lead to a third extension?

This is a difficult era in which to reach 3,000 hits, one of the traditional benchmarks for a Hall of Fame batter. It’s a benchmark that will need to be replaced with more modern accounting as we move forward, perhaps. But if anyone can reach 3,000 hits today, it will be Altuve — and perhaps he will do it as an Astro, a rare one-star-with-one-team career.

We hoped you liked reading The Astros Extend Jose Altuve… Again by Travis Sawchik!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

newest oldest most voted
MikeD
Member
Member
MikeD

Seems like a good deal all around. The Astros lock up their star player, but avoid having to face paying him on the north side of 34, as the Mariners will with Cano. I guess the one red flag here relates to the more rapid decline 2B’man often see compared to other position players, compounded by Altuve being a speed player. Still, I believe there’s a good chance he’ll be valuable throughout the deal, even as he declines some.

Curious though how this extension will work related to the luxury tax. Does it get added to his prior deal, thus lowering the AAV below $30 million a year, or is it treated as a separate deal? That could end up as a consideration as the Astros payroll rises and they try and lock up their young stars who will become more expensive. Consistent winning means higher payrolls.

baubo
Member
baubo

The tweet sounds like a simple extension after picking up both his option years. While I kind of agree with you that I think spreading out that much make more long term sense, it’s possible the Astros may prefer to go for maximum short term gain. And allow space to add salary at the deadline.

LHPSU
Member
LHPSU

I mentioned this in another post, but I think the perception that 2B decline faster than other players is something of a myth in the current environment.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

I don’t know where this idea comes from that 2B’s decline faster than other players. I’ve heard it about catchers, about center fielders, about first basemen…

And don’t know why second basemen would supposedly decline earlier than shortstops, except that second basemen are usually a little less athletic than shortstops to begin with.

timprov
Member
timprov

I think it mostly comes from the way Roberto Alomar fell off the planet.