It always felt like a foregone conclusion that the Astros would extend Jose Altuve. More of a when situation, not an if. The star second baseman holds more value to this organization than any other and Altuve again made his feelings clear about the city of Houston. It only made sense for the two parties to continue this mutually beneficial partnership for the foreseeable future. As such, Tuesday’s extension announcement — five years, $125 million — wasn’t much of a surprise, but more of a relief that it finally happened.
Jose Altuve will be an Astro for life. pic.twitter.com/ndPHz1lP7E— Houston Astros (@astros) February 6, 2024
For Altuve, the extension likely ensures that he finishes his storied career as an Astro. He is on track to join Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio as notable players to spend their entire Major League career in Houston. Hopefully, an induction into Cooperstown is also in the cards for Altuve in the distant future. For the Astros, it means that a key cog in their lineup remains in place beyond 2024. Considering how Alex Bregman is scheduled to enter free agency next offseason and Kyle Tucker following the 2025 season, this extension at least removes a portion of doubt about the lineup’s future. That’s a win for a club that figures to make at least a couple of more pushes into October, possibly more depending on the outcome of certain negotiations, or lack thereof. In terms of the financials, the terms favor the Astros, with a lessened AAV hit in the early years compared to the actual cash salary. It also being five years certainly fits within the template that Crane has approved in the past.
2025: $30 million ($25 million AAV)
2026: $30 million ($25 million AAV)
2027: $30 million ($25 million AAV)
2028: $10 million ($25 million AAV)
2029: $10 million ($25 million AAV)
Accounting for the $15 million pro-rated signing bonus, Altuve’s AAV hit towards the tax payroll will be $25 million, not a bad price for one of the best second basemen in baseball, especially through the next two to three seasons. It also helps that this extension, and the new AAV, won’t kick in until 2025. Keeping Altuve’s AAV for 2024 at $23.357 million with the Astros approaching the second threshold of $257 million is a small win for the club.
While there is some inherent downside risk in the contract’s later years, we also must remember that the CBT thresholds will likely continue to increase. Paying $25 million in AAV for 2028 and 2029 may not be the best allocation of resources, but there are instances when sacrificing a bit of financial flexibility makes sense. This extension, if you will, is more about a legacy rather than long-term gains. There are short-term considerations, without a doubt. But, again, with the CBT thresholds likely increasing in future seasons, this $25 million AAV won’t hold the same significance as it does this year and next. So, yes, a legacy extension of sorts, but an AAV around that level for a franchise icon ought not to become an albatross.
The Astros at least now have some additional financial clarity, specifically with how much the organization could allocate in extension offers to Bregman, Tucker, and Framber Valdez if they’re so inclined. But each case is different, and it is increasingly doubtful any of the three accept a more team-friendly contract. But for Altuve, his extension, while lucrative, was not mainly about the money. It was certainly a factor, but not overriding. His legacy in Houston, for example, took some precedence. He is a franchise icon in every sense. For a player who revealed during Wednesday’s press conference that he was meant to be only “something temporary” at second base, it adds another component to this incredible career arc for someone with such humble beginnings in the first place.