The time may be approaching for the Astros to reward, in the monetary sense, their arguably best player.
Honoring a commitment is one traditional way to measure another’s loyalty to your cause. At the same time, when is the appropriate time for one party to reward someone for a job well done? The Astros may face that very same question sooner or later about one of their own.
The player I’m referencing of course is Houston’s star second baseman Jose Altuve. And he is on one of the most friendly team deals in baseball today.
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As you all may know, Altuve is in the middle of a four-year, $12.5 million contact that runs through this year. The big kicker in the deal is that his 2018 and 2019 seasons can be picked up as team options for a combined $12.5 million. Either way you chop that up, the Astros got a heck of a deal for one of the top second baseman in baseball.
But should Houston renegotiate Altuve’s deal?
I have a feeling some will say that the Astros would be better off honoring Altuve’s current deal and using that resources elsewhere. After all this is a business.
On the other hand, the act of renegotiating his deal would be considered the kindest of gestures. And it’s not like Altuve hasn’t earned a market value contract over the last three seasons. Take a look at his WAR broken down into free agent dollars.
2014 WAR-to-Dollars: $38.4 million
2015 WAR-to-Dollars:$36.0 million
2016 WAR-to-Dollars: $53.4 million
Sure, Altuve won’t garner that much of an annual salary per season on a free agent contract. The point of that metric though is to break down his value based on WAR. That breakdown still makes you think twice. Or maybe three times.
There is one less-than-obvious benefit to a possible Altuve renegotiation tactic: the feeling that the Astros treat their players as people rather numbers.
I figure I may receive some pushback on this topic mainly due to the reasoning that baseball is about business and wins. And I get that. For the most part, I do believe that the numbers concept is by large a smart route. On the other hand, we are still dealing with people. And you can’t always separate the numbers from the person. It’s a packaged deal.
The Astros are well-known for this numbers approach, if I may call it that. Even though the team has started to win and increase its payroll as a response, the feeling still exists that Houston values their stats above all else. That is in my mind anyway. I could be right or wrong about that presumption.
But just imagine the goodwill that the organization could establish with future players if it takes care of their own. The same is true, if not more so, with the players currently on the roster. This could be the first step to keeping that core together for a long time.
From a business perspective, it probably doesn’t make sense to hand Altuve a new, and expensive, contract. But from a people perspective, a gesture this grand could go a long way. In other words, it may be time for the Astros ownership to put up the cash to make this young core into a living legacy.
**Statistics and contract information courtesy of Fangraphs**