Houston made Jose Altuve an Astro for life. Will they do the same for Alex Bregman? That remains to be seen. On Tuesday, the Houston Astros announced that Altuve had agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep him in H-Town through the 2029 season.
Both Altuve and Bregman were about to enter the final year of their respective contracts. That no longer applies to Altuve, who will likely now retire as a member of the Astros. Bregman, however, seems much more likely to enter free agency next offseason.
By no means does that imply that Houston can't retain their All-Star third baseman, but Bregman is represented by Scott Boras. The baseball super-agent told Chandler Rome of The Athletic that Altuve signed a "bridge" contract, but that's not the expectation when it comes to Bregman, who is four years younger. So what might Bregman's next contract look like?
Projecting Alex Bregman’s next contract after Astros’ Jose Altuve extension
From Boras' comments and past history, it's safe to assume that if the Astros plan to bring Bregman back to Houston after the 2024 season, they'll have to compete with what other motivated teams are offering. Bregman will undoubtedly be testing the market next offseason, and it sounds as if Houston's brass believes the price will top Altuve's significantly.
Taking an objective look at the likely market as it stands, Bregman is arguably the second-best position player available next winter. Juan Soto is going to sign a massive deal, while both Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler will be leading the charge on the pitching side of things.
Bregman, on the other hand, will be competing with the likes of Ha-Seong Kim, Pete Alonso, Willy Adames, and Paul Goldschmidt for the biggest contract on the position player side of things.
Will Alex Bregman face the same challenges free agent 3B Matt Chapman has endured?
When trying to estimate future contracts, you're always looking to find player comps. Bregman will be 30 years old next season, and has two All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger to his résumé. Bregman rarely strikes out, maintains a high walk rate, and has posted a career 135 OPS+.
After seeing how prolonged process has been for free agent Matt Chapman, Bregman has to wonder what lies ahead for him. Chapman is the superior defender, but Bregman's offensive profile is much better than Chapman's. Whatever number the former Toronto Blue Jays' infielder lands on this offseason, Bregman will surely surpass.
Padres infielder Xander Bogaerts offers the best comp for Alex Bregman
Though Manny Machado was already under contract last season, the six-time All-Star renegotiated an 11-year, $350 million contract extension with the San Diego Padres. Machado was 30 years old at the time of that deal.
Xander Bogaerts agreed to an 11-year, $280 million deal with the Padres last offseason. Like Bregman, Bogaerts is a bat-first infielder who keeps the swings and misses to a minimum while providing plenty of power. Bregman's 165 career homers slide in just 10 behind Bogaerts' 175 career big flies.
Bogaerts' $25.5 million average annual value (AAV) is probably the floor for what Bregman is expecting to take home next offseason, and at 30 years old, Bregman is likely to be looking for a deal that is comparable in length as well (though he may not get it without the desperate Padres involved in the process).
While it's a big chunk of change, the $25.5 million AAV isn't the biggest hurdle. It's the number of years. Would the Houston Astros be willing to sign Alex Bregman to an 11-year contract next winter? Especially with players like Framber Valdez and Kyle Tucker getting closer to hitting the free agent market as well? That's a question for Jim Crane, and Astros fans are going to have wait about another year to find out the answer.