#6 Framber Valdez
Who would have imagined Valdez would be this low on the list when the season started? And even more so at the All-Star Break? Valdez finished top-five in the AL Cy Young race in 2022, and followed it up with a dominant postseason.
He was then in line to start the All-Star game for the AL after posting a 2.51 first-half ERA. In the second half, Valdez imploded. He finished with a 4.66 ERA post All-Star Break, and detonated in October.
With the shift limitations hurting Valdez' ground ball dependence, and the pitch clock limiting his ability to step off the mound and reset, have we seen the best of Valdez? If he can be had for under value, by all means, lock him up. But Valdez will likely command big money, and the Astros need ace-level production if they're going to pay him like one.
After his second half struggles, Houston could possibly get Valdez for cheaper than they would have six months ago. But he still finished 9th in the AL Cy Young voting due to his strong first half and durability. His market didn't exactly plummet.
As crazy as it may seem, of the Astros current core pieces, Framber Valdez may be the least deserving of a contract extension.