With the offseason all but done, the narrative surrounding the Houston Astros has turned to the future of some of the stars on their roster. Sure, it is possible that the Astros add another arm or an outfielder before the start of the 2024 season, but the focus at the moment is on the potential contract extensions for Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Framber Valdez.
General manager Dana Brown seems to have acknowledged as much with his recent comments. Not only did he openly say that the team plans to make an offer to Bregman before he hits free agency at the end of this year, but that he also wants to try and keep Kyle Tucker around as well.
Fans should not expect a Kyle Tucker extension anytime soon. It doesn't sound like those conversations have really gotten started yet, and he is also further away from free agency, which gives the team time to decide how much they want to push in on extending him. However, the idea of an Alex Bregman extension is an entirely different matter.
The Astros are doing damage control with talk of an Alex Bregman extension
On the surface, both Bregman and the Astros are saying all the right things. Bregman's agent Scott Boras made it clear that Bregman will listen to any offers from the Astros, and the Astros are not publicly dismissing the idea of retaining him for the long haul. Unfortunately, there are some fundamental realities that make all of this chatter nothing more than public posturing.
While some have suggested that Bregman is going to be looking for $300+ million with his next deal, the more recent comparison that some have made is to Xander Bogaerts' 11-year, $280 million deal with the Padres. Both players have a track record of production at the plate and are relatively close to the same age at the time of being eligible for an extension. The Padres are no longer quite so desperate and flush with cash, but the comparison stands.
The problem with this parallel, though, is that Bregman's production has decreased in recent years. He is no longer a 150 wRC+ guy at the plate, although the 120-130 version is far from being shabby. Right now, he is getting a lot of value from his defense and ability to draw walks, neither of which may age all that well, especially if opposing pitchers stop assuming that he is a lock to do damage if they pound the strike zone. When you combine those challenges with the fact that the Astros have a lot of money tied up already AND they probably still want to actually extend Tucker and Valdez, an extension of that magnitude for Bregman doesn't make much sense.
For the Astros, the decision calculus is fairly simple. Bregman is probably going to leave in search of big money, and there will be some fans upset if that comes to pass. One way for them to mitigate that concern is to make a reasonable offer for him and have him inevitably turn it down. In the unlikely event that he accepts their offer, then they defy expectations and keep him around. In the more likely scenario that he turns them down, the front office can sell their effort to fans while pivoting their attention to other extension candidates on the roster that may be easier to justify.