Astros: Quick payroll breakdown following “Extension Week”

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DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 11: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros stands for a moment of silence with Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros, and Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Comerica Park on September 11, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 11: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros stands for a moment of silence with Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros, and Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Comerica Park on September 11, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Time to do a quick breakdown about the Astros’ payroll, especially in light of the three extensions handed down last week.

In a span of less than a week, the Astros have locked up Ryan Pressly, Alex Bregman, and Justin Verlainder (in that order) to various contract extensions. For a club looking to maintain its current window of contention past the 2019 season, it was an important step.

Here is the amount of money the Astros have committed towards the three extensions:

  • Pressly: Two-years, $17.5 million
  • Bregman: Five-years, $100 million
  • Verlander: Two-years, $66 million

The Astros committed $183.5 million towards three players in the foreseeable future. There was a time when we witnessed Houston constantly ranked in the bottom tier of payroll in baseball. Well, those times are no longer here as the organization has made a commitment to winning into the next decade. Whether it all works out as designed remains to be seen, though.

Going forward, the Astros will have some interesting decisions when it comes to payroll. Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the club roughly has $19.97 million under the luxury tax threshold for the 2019 season. That leaves room for another addition or two, if needed; however, it likely excludes Dallas Keuchel from returning to Houston as an Astro.

Looking ahead to 2020 and we see a similar situation. It’ll be interesting to see how Jeff Luhnow and the front office approaches negotiations with Gerrit Cole, who is a Scott Boras client. He is also a free agent following the 2019 season. At this point, Patrick Corbin‘s six-year, $140 million contract is a popular comp, but I think Cole will exceed it by a fair margin based on his track record and lack of injury history. The starting point could even be Stephen Strasburg‘s seven-year, $175 million contract or even Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million contract. If Cole, who is making $13.5 million in 2019, doubles his average annual salary, the Astros would have to account for that increase. That would eat up a large chunk of the projected $69.093 million under the luxury tax.

The 2021 season is where we’ll start to see some contracts come off the books. For example, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and Yuli Gurriel will make a combined $38.5 million in 2020, which happens to be the last year of their current contracts. Of course, one would have to also account for potential extensions for George Springer and Carlos Correa, which may absorb most, if not all, of those savings. Whether Cole stays in Houston or not may have direct impact on how the club handles negotiations with two of their homegrown stars.

Why this may be Gerrit Cole’s last season in Houston. dark. Next

As it currently stands on March 25, 2019, the Astros project to have nearly $110 million in salary space under the luxury tax threshold in 2021. Those numbers are likely to change as baseball teams can also change a lot in just two years. To end this quick analysis, the Astros still have room to make an improvement or two during this year’s trade deadline. They may or may not have more room to spend, depending on the outcome of a few situations. 2021 is the next time within the next couple of years that we could see Houston have notable payroll flexibility again.

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