Why Astros must say goodbye to this star to lure Blake Snell in 2025

Blake Snell signed a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants, but there's a catch.

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throws a pitcher
San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throws a pitcher / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros had their chance, but decided not to go all-in on starting pitcher Blake Snell. The reigning Cy Young Award winner was linked to the Astros over the weekend, but on Monday night, Snell signed with the San Francisco Giants instead.

Snell was supposed to be one of the hottest names on the free agent market this offseason, but after watching his market collapse, the left-hander opted to sign a two-year, $62 million contract with the Giants.

But Snell's contract contains some interesting language that could allow the Astros to pursue the southpaw next winter. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, who was first to break the news, Snell's deal contains an opt-out after the upcoming season. That clause would allow the Astros to negotiate with Snell later this year, but they'd need to clear some payroll first.

How Astros can shed enough salary to lure Blake Snell in 2025

The chief reason the Astros' late-spring pursuit of Snell failed was due to ownership's desire to stay under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Having already gone over the initial $237 million threshold in order to sign Josh Hader, Snell's $30 million per year demands would have seen Houston blow past the next threshold, which would've led to the Astros incurring a 45% surcharge, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

But heading into 2025, some big contracts will drop off Houston's books. Cot's Baseball Contracts currently estimates Houston's 2024 Opening Day payroll to be $258 million, but that number drops to $151 million heading into the next offseason.

Unless Justin Verlander, who's set to open the season on the IL, is able to log at least 140 innings in 2024, his $35 million vesting option will not be triggered. Kendall Graveman's $8 million salary will also be gone heading into next winter as well.

The Astros will have sacrifice Alex Bregman in order to sign Blake Snell

But if the Astros truly want to pursue Snell next offseason, then Houston will have to say goodbye to Alex Bregman. With no traction in contract talks this offseason, it would seem that Bregman will enter free agency next winter.

With Scott Boras having been embarrassed by the underwhelming deals he secured for Snell, Cody Bellinger, and Matt Chapman, you can be sure that he'll be looking to reestablish himself as the top dog in 2025. Bregman is, of course, represented by the Boras Corporation.

Bregman is owed $20 million this season. By next offseason, Framber Valdez and Kyle Tucker will be one year away from free agency. The Astros could conceivably let Bregman walk, sign Snell, and even keep Valdez and Tucker in H-Town for the long haul while staying under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold.

A serious pursuit of Snell next winter will require the Astros to bid farewell to Bregman. But that's a path they're likely to choose anyway, with the third baseman's contract demands likely to exceed $300 million.

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