In a pretty surprising move, the Houston Astros have locked up Jose Altuve to a long-term contract extension, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
Astros will announce later today a long-term contract extension with Jose Altuve. http://t.co/5SpaBwu1ya #Astros #MLB— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 13, 2013
Altuve has played three seasons in the major leagues, breaking into the majors in 2011 after the July trade craziness. According to McTaggart, the extension likely will buy out his arbitration years, which are scheduled to begin after next season. Before the extension, Altuve was set to become a free agent after the 2016 season.
Altuve is a career .284/.325/.377 hitter with 12 home runs and 61 steals in 290 career games. He's hitting .280/.317/.354 this season after making the All-Star team last year. His numbers across the board are down since May 1, but he's not hitting markedly worse overall than he did a year ago. In fact, Altuve still has the third-highest position player fWAR on the team.
One of the reasons for that is Altuve has had a bounce-back year according to his defensive metrics. A year ago, he was hurt by sub-par defensive numbers, though most agreed his defense was good if inconsistent. This year, he's improved enough to become a league average second baseman.
As McTaggart notes, this is the first major commitment by this new front office. It couldn't happen to a better player, as Altuve is a fan favorite and a clubhouse leader. He's one of the few players on the team that would really upset the fan base by being traded and now he's locked up to what is surely a team-friendly deal for the next four or five years.
What do you think? Happy to see Altuve cemented as an Astro for a while? Intrigued to find out what the money will look like?