I was in the parking lot at Party City, getting balloons for The Squid's first birthday party, when I saw the news that the Astros signed Jose Altuve to a four-year $12.5m contract (with a $750,000 bonus), with a $6m option for 2018 and a $6.5m option for 2019. So that's why you got the brief blurb on the blog earlier, and this is to carry out some thoughts to keep The Rabble happy.
Exactly two months ago today we wrote about extending Jose Altuve to a long-term deal (and our thought exercise gave him a six-year $40m contact, $15m more than what he and the Astros agreed upon. So let this serve as a lesson to never make me your general manager) and while the circumstances have changed - he was hitting .336/.373/.447 when I wrote the article, then Jimmy Paredes killed him and since then (not including today) he's hitting .239/.272/.284.
So what is there to make of this? Well, the basic tenets of the argument for locking him up are still valid:
*If you have young talent, you lock it up. The contract begins in 2014, in which Altuve turns 24. He'll be under contract through Age 27, with options for his Age 28 and 29 seasons. Those are peak years.
*It means the Astros aren't going to cash in a $1000 lottery ticket for 1000 scratch-offs.
Jim Crane said it himself:
This contract is consistent with our strategy of developing and retaining the best young talent in baseball. All along, I've maintained that we will make the necessary investments to create a winning team long-term, and this is an important step in that direction.
Altuve has struggled recently (.195/.233/.195 in July, albeit with a .229 BABIP), but again, he's 23 years old, and we wrote about this 10 days ago. More importantly, the Astros believe that this is a blip - remember, his skid began with the passing of his grandmother. The average AL 2B is hitting .269/.328/.394. Altuve, mind you, is hitting .280/.316/.353. But the Astros aren't giving him $12.5m this year. They're giving it to him beginning next year, and over the course of the next four years.
Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com:
We're going to have a lot of exciting young talent coming through our system and to the big leagues, and once we feel there's enough certainty on our side that the player is going to be around and be able to contribute at the level we need him to for the long haul, we're going to try to get deals done.
So that's good news for, say, Jason Castro. Jordan Lyles. Maybe Matt Dominguez (although I'm sketchier on a long-term deal for Dominguez). Chris Carter? It's not such good news for Delino DeShields, who will be batting 2nd in tomorrow afternoon's Futures Game.
What are my thoughts on the Altuve extension? Considering two months ago I would have been happy with 6yrs $40m? I think this should work out quite nicely.