Kyle Tucker puts ball in Astros’ court over contract extension talks

Kyle Tucker did not mince words when asked about possible extension talks with the Astros.

Oct 7, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) hits a double in the
Oct 7, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) hits a double in the / Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
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Now that the Houston Astros have locked up Jose Altuve, most of the discussion regarding contract extensions has shifted to the next group of free agents.

Sure, there are some out there that are holding out hope Houston can find a way to keep Alex Bregman, but most people agree Bregman is going to leave in free agency and that the Astros are more likely to focus their efforts on keeping Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez.

Given that Valdez is a pitcher, waiting on any extension makes sense there. Arms are just more likely to get hurt and/or regress than position players, so waiting another year to see if he can replicate his success before committing to a long-term deal is perfectly defensible.

However, Tucker is a different animal altogether as the closer he gets to free agency, the stronger the allure is going to be to test the waters in the open market.

Thankfully, Tucker appears to be open to having a conversation with the Astros about a possible contract extension. When asked at spring training about his long-term future with the team, he said that while Houston hasn't presented an extension offer to him, he is "open" to those conversations and would love to have them soon.

Kyle Tucker's desire for an extension soon could benefit both him and the Astros

It wasn't as though Tucker was ever going to say that he wasn't open to talking with the Astros about an extension. Going out there in front of microphones and saying, "I'm going to test free agency" when he's two years out probably wouldn't make much sense and would definitely tick off Houston fans and probably a few current Astros players.

However, what is interesting is that he indicated that he would like to get an extension done relatively soon. Tucker acknowledged that the timing at this moment might not be right with the other things the Astros have going on, but that he wants to get that process started does seem to show that he has strong interest in staying in Houston, which is great news for those wanting the Astros to lock him down.

It isn't as simple as a player wanting to stick around, though. At the end of the day, what matters the most is the size of a contract. Some initial guesses at Tucker's next deal were quite high, but more recent projections have Tucker getting somewhere in the $21-23 million a year range in an extension over six or seven years, and more than that if he decides to test free agency.

If that's all it takes to keep him, Houston needs to jump at the chance. Based on the prices for top players these days, though, the Astros may have to offer $25+ million a year or more, and that's where negotiations could get tough.

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