The Astros should explore extensions with Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, before arbitration.
In March of 2019, the Houston Astros and Alex Bregman agreed to an extension of six years, $100 million, avoiding arbitration and free agency until 2025. By the ’25 offseason, the Astros will have only one contract in place — Lance McCullers Jr. — with two key players on their final year of arbitration.
Those two players — Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker — will see increasing numbers with each passing arbitration year. Similarly, Major League Baseball teams tend to avoid these years with extension to their prospering young talent.
For the Astros, they didn’t work extension to players like Gerrit Cole, Carlos Correa nor George Springer in recent years. These three explored free agency, and while Correa can still re-sign with Houston, it would behoove the Astros to avoid similar situations with Tucker and Alvarez.
Both players will be 25-years-old by the end of the 2022 season, entering their first year of arbitration in the offseason. The two combined for 8.7 WAR in 2021, and depending on how the next Collective Bargaining Agreement affects arbitration contracts, the Astros should avoid it to secure a consistent future.
By 2025, the state of the Astros could be completely different with Bregman and Jose Altuve off the books. Both could re-sign, but also factoring the future production the two will produce is beneficial to the plan the Astros put in place.
Looking at the payroll for the 2023 season, the organization will owe roughly $122 million with about $88 million to spend to stay under the current competitive balance tax, according to spotrac.
This season includes two player options and a team option that could affect the overall money spent. With Pedro Baez’s signing not showing much promise, you could assume Houston doesn’t pick up his $7.5-million team option for 2023 and add that cash to spending or extensions.
With nearly $96 million in spending, the front office has room to exercise negotiations on extending both players sooner than later.
Although the fan speculation is that owner Jim Crane does not spend money, the Astros continue to border the CBT. With a new CBA, the tax line could shift, affecting how much teams can spend without being penalized.