Extension to avoid: Alex Bregman
To be clear, this isn’t an indictment of the work that Alex Bregman has done with the Astros to this point. He is a two-time All-Star, has a pair of 8+ fWAR seasons under his belt, is a strong defender at third, and is coming off a strong season in 2022 where he posted an .820 OPS and 5.5 fWAR. However, there are some real reasons to avoid extending Bregman any further than the Astros already have.
The extension that bought out Bregman's first three years of arbitration also has him making $28.5 million this year and next. That contract has been a bargain so far especially with his production in 2022, but his next extension isn’t likely to be at any discount with Scott Boras as his agent. There is no denying that Bregman is a valuable player, but once a contract gets to a certain point, there are going to be opportunity costs especially for a team that is somewhat payroll constrained like Houston. Is it worth keeping Bregman at the cost of not being able to fill other spots on the roster? Our guess is no.
The other problem is that Bregman is showing some signs that he is beginning to decline. His average exit velocity is starting to creep slowly downward, he isn’t barreling pitches as much, and he hasn’t hit more than 23 homers since 2019. He does still have a really good walk rate and elite K-rate along with his usual excellent defense, but it is clear that Alex isn’t hitting the ball hard as much as he used to. Investing a lot of money in a guy who will be 30 next season and is already seemingly declining is problematic.
In the end, everything comes down to cost. If Bregman is willing to do a shorter term deal that doesn’t break the bank, then by all means do it. However, if the Astros find themselves needing to give him a long-term deal with a high AAV to keep him from walking, they should let him go after his current deal runs out after the 2024 season.