The next star that needs to be made an Astro for life is an easy choice

Yordan Alvarez is on the path to being a true icon in Houston.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Three
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Three / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

When the Houston Astros were able to sign Jose Altuve to one last big extension, fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. When Altuve's career does eventually end, he will go down as one of the best players to ever put on an Astros uniform and will probably have a statue of himself outside of Minute Maid Park at some point.

He's far from done as a player, but it;s fair to start wondering who's going to follow in his footsteps as a face of the franchise.

Alex Bregman was certainly an option for the gig, but everything seems to be pointing to him leaving in free agency after the season. Framber Valdez is one of the best pitchers in the league, but starters don't really command that recognition, and his future with the team is uncertain too. The same is true with Kyle Tucker, other than the obvious pitcher/hitter difference.

The answer to who should next be crowned an Astro for life is actually right in front of our eyes, as Yordan Alvarez's impact on the franchise has transcended just his ability to hit absolute tanks.

The Astros should never let Yordan Alvarez get close to leaving town

Ever since Alvarez came to the big leagues in 2019, he has been an integral part of the Astros' lineup. He won AL Rookie of the Year after slashing .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers in his first 87 games. After issues with his knees effectively cost him the 2020 season, Alvarez has gone on to average a .958 OPS over the following three seasons while making a pair of All-Star Games and being a perennial MVP candidate.

Just focusing on his bat doesn't do Alvarez justice, however, While he has a reputation of being a quiet guy, he's becoming a more vocal leader in the clubhouse. Even if that doesn't stick, his voice and leadership by example carry a lot of weight with his Astros teammates. Alvarez has spoken previously about how Houston's vets helped him when he first got to the league and he wants to pay that forward.

Fans shouldn't be expecting another extension for Alvarez anytime soon, however. Houston already did the smart thing and inked him to a six-year deal in 2022, which will carry him all the way through the 2028 season. There's no urgency for either side to get a deal done until at least several years from now, especially with the uncertainty of arbitration no longer an issue.

Still, Houston needs to make sure that their relationship with Alvarez remains strong. Like Altuve, Alvarez is a quiet but important leader who commands respect with his play and how he carries himself. As Mauricio Dubon said recently, "When he says something everybody listens."

That means that not only will the Astros need to pony up when the time comes for an extension, but they're going to need to keep a strong team around him. Whether that means extending Valdez and Tucker or ushering in a new crop of strong players remains to be seen, but Alvarez clearly has his eyes on greatness and that's going to have to be a team effort.

Assuming that happens, Alvarez is exactly the kind of guy that can carry Altuve's mantle once he finally calls it a career and be the next Astro for life. There are always going to be guys that Houston can get to produce on the field, but there are few precious opportunities to get guys that can carry the weight of a franchise on their shoulders.

Fortunately for the Astros, Alvarez seems very much up to the task.

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