No doubt about it, the Houston Astros are a dynasty well in the making.
Their talent has taken them places Astros fans could only dream of before 2017. The downside is when the big paydays start to come for the Astros stars, there is only so much the front office can do.
According to Fangraphs, Jose Altuve should roughly make $48 million through his age thirty-two season. That would cost the Astros around a five-year $240-260 million deal.
"Jeff Luhnow said last week regarding Altuve, that, ”He is a franchise player, and so he gets put into a different category” Luhnow added, ”I think (Jim) Crane and myself always had the desire to figure out a way to keep Jose here from the beginning to the end of his career.”"
Based off that quote, I think we can probably accept that Altuve will most likely be an Astro for a long time. The front office has shown that they value Altuve as a franchise player, and it does not seem that they will let him go. He just has to want to stay in Houston.
The rest of the core four.
When focusing on the rest of the core, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer‘s contract seasons all come one year at a time. It will be three years in a row, starting with Springer in 2021 followed by Correa, and then Bregman. I would be surprised if the Astros cannot lock up at least one of the three. Correa would probably be the easiest to bring back being that his fiance’s family lives in Houston and it is likely her best interest to stay in town.
Though Bregman and Springer are also home-bred and proven, life in Houston in the 2020’s are no guarantee. According to Fangraphs, Correa’s projected ZiPS WAR (5.7) is the highest of the three. Which reflects upon how much he would demand for a contract extension (around $48 million). Compared to Bregman (3.7 projected ZiPS WAR) equaling to roughly $30 million and Springer (4.4 ZiPS WAR) totaling at around $35 million.
The Astros simply don’t have the money for all of them while still having to pay a supporting staff.
In 2018 the Astros will have a $155 million salary. If the Astros were to retain all four core players, it would cost them at least $160 for the four players, not including the other nineteen players on an MLB roster. That is just impossible. However, if the Astros retain two of the four, it can cost them around $80 to 90 million a year leaving at least $60 million for the rest of the team. Which is completely doable. Not a fifteen-year dynasty, but still a solid veteran core to build and develop around.
We need to accept the fact that the Astros are most likely to lose Dallas Keuchel. He is the oldest of the homebred stars on the team. Like Eric and Cody said on last week’s CTH Podcast, since Scott Boras is his agent, it is likely that if he has another good season he would be demanding Clayton Kershaw like money. The Astros are not the type to pay that much for players on the older side of their thirties.
Aside from the core, the Astros have a lot of quality players, who have yet to take their game to the next step in the majors.
The Astros have players like Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez who all have the talent to be the next Astros stars but still might be a year or two away. We can not forget the Astros have several minor league players who have reached their limits of production in the minor leagues. The majors are the next and only option for them to excel in their careers.
Let’s look at A.J. Reed’s stats, in AAA Fresno. Despite his average being little low and he strikes out a decent amount, he still hit 34 home runs and 104 RBI’s. He is MLB ready, and if he can not take the next step this year, then he is quite possibly the next Astro to get traded.
What about KC?
The Kansas City Royals extended only one of their main core players long-term, Alex Gordon. He is very talented but is nothing like Altuve, Correa. Springer, or Bregman. However, players like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain did not remain in the organization. The Astros need to do the opposite of what the Royals did. We need to lock up our best player Altuve, as well as at least one more star. The Astros front office needs to trust the system and continue to develop more talent.
The Astros are going to lose some players. However, we have up and coming talent and enough money to retain somewhat of a core. As long as there is a core to build around, the Astros will be able to contend. An early rebuild and a split from the stars who brought all the success is not the solution. The Astros need to reward and pay their core, and not go back to the day one drawing board looking for a new path to success.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs***