Astros have one contract extension they must prioritize in 2024

Yainer Diaz is already proving he belongs.
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

When star catchers are discussed in today's game, names like Adley Rutschman and Will Smith are often the first names that come to mind. Smith, coincidentally, just signed a massive extension to stay with the LA Dodgers for the next decade.

Houston has a blossoming superstar of their own in Yainer Diaz. While it's early in his career, Houston should follow the Will Smith blueprint (and repeat what they did with Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman) and ensure Diaz remains in H-Town for his prime years.

The Atlanta Braves have a wide open window of contention because they signed young stars like Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider before they got expensive. They were then able to spend elsewhere. Houston has already bid farewell to stars like George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Gerrit Cole, and could see Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker walk in back-to-back offseasons.

The Astros can ensure they don't find themselves in a similar position with Diaz by offering him an extension early.

In his young career, Diaz holds a .282 average and .840 OPS. He has 25 career home runs, and his average over 162 games would be 34 home runs and 88 RBI. For the sake of comparison, Rutschman is a .269 hitter with an .806 OPS.

In the early goings of 2024, Diaz has shaved five percentage points off of his chase rate and 10 percentage points off of his whiff rate. His walk rate has climbed from 2.9% to 7.3%. By all accounts, Diaz is already an extremely skilled hitter. A case can be made he's already better than Rutschman, and he's in a very similar league to Smith.

Defensively, Diaz has a cannon for an arm, is an elite blocker of the baseball, and has improved his framing from 2023 to 2024.

Assuming he stays healthy, the Astros could legitimately have a 30-home-run hitter and Gold Glove finalist behind the dish. Those don't grow on trees.

Dana Brown has been adamant since arriving in Houston that the days of letting top talent walk in free agency are long gone. Starting with an early extension for their young catcher would be a wise move to make, even if he is far away from free agency.