Houston Astros: 2 contract extensions they need to make and 1 to avoid

The Houston Astros have some choices to make with who and who not to give contract extensions.

Cincinnati Reds v Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds v Houston Astros / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Extension to make: Framber Valdez

You would be completely excused if you thought that giving contract extensions to pitchers is usually not a great idea. Indeed, some of the worst contracts in baseball (looking at you, Patrick Corbin, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, and Stephen Strasburg) were given to pitchers and the laws of physics plus good ol’ fashioned Father Time are particularly unkind to arms. However, you have to have guys in your rotation you can trust and adding Framber Valdez to the already extended Cristian Valdez in the Astros' rotation is a worthy gamble.

Coming into the 2023 season, the Astros clearly wanted to extend Framber. He was coming off a season where he threw north of 200 innings and posted an ERA of 2.82 and a fWAR of 4.4. Those are big time numbers, but Valdez has somehow been even better in 2023 as he has been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball this season. He has shown real gains in ERA, FIP, xFIP, strikeout rate, and walk rate. In short, he is quickly positioning himself to be a bona fide ace.

In fact, his performance this season is actually a reason to think that getting an extension done could be MORE difficult now vs. before the season started. The Astros and Valdez were negotiating before spring training on an extension, but those talks broke down after the gap between the two sides was too large. Well, Framber has only gotten more expensive since then given how well he has been pitching in 2023 and is less likely to want to give any discounts. Framber also has the same problem that Tucker has in that he still has two years of arbitration left, so waiting at least another season may be the best way to get talks going in the right direction so that the two sides have an arbitration figure to work from.

Framber will almost certainly require significantly more to extend than the five year, $64 million deal that Javier got. The Astros should be very wary of giving Framber too many years as he is already 29 years old and will be in his early 30’s before he runs out of team control. That said, starting pitchers that you can trust to throw meaningful and quality innings are tough to come by and since the Astros aren’t likely to be playing in the deep end of the starting pitcher free agent pool too often, extending Valdez seems like a good option.