PUT A BOW ON IT!
Here's the perfect way for the Astros to put their final stamp on the offseason
The Houston Astros have made multiple moves in free agency, headlined by the signing of José Abreu, but the 2022 World Series Champions should also take this offseason to sign two of their stars before their price gets even higher.
Pitcher Framber Valdez and right fielder Kyle Tucker each had a strong 2022 season for the Astros and played key roles in the team’s postseason run. One thing Houston has seen over the past few seasons is that it needs to lock down their key players early before they hit the open market.
After the Astros won their first World Series Championship in 2017, Houston turned around and reached an agreement with Jose Altuve just before the 2018 regular season began. The Astros were able to reach deals with third baseman Alex Bregman ahead of the 2019 season, which locked him down until 2024.
Houston sealed Lance McCullers Jr. prior to start of the 2021 season. The biggest extension recently was that of Yordan Alvarez, who signed a six-year extension that will keep him in Houston through 2028.
The common theme among all the extensions? The Astros never allowed those players to reach the open market. Of course there are examples of those that did reach free agency and neither returned to Houston—George Springer and Carlos Correa. Gerrit Cole can be thrown in there as well, though his circumstances were a bit different.
Valdez started 31 regular season games for Houston in 2022. The 29-year-old put together his best performance throughout his entire career, averaging just a 2.82 ERA and notching 17 wins to only six losses in his 31 starts.
In the postseason, the native of the Dominican Republic only increased his phenomenal play. Valdez’ ERA dropped to 1.44 in four starts against Major League Baseball’s best. He struck out 33 batters, and the Astros went 3-0 in the four games he started.
Tucker was able to continue his strong play from 2021 and keep it at the same level in 2022, showing a level of consistency that is always crucial for players seeking extensions.
The 25-year-old, who will be 26 by the time the 2023 season starts, posted .257/.330/.478 in the regular season, delivered 30 homers, and he drove in 107 runs, a career-high for Tucker.
During the Astros’ 2022 postseason run, Tucker’s numbers fell to .204/.298/.408, but that is common for all players in the playoffs. The right fielder out of Tampa, Florida, still managed to hit three homers and drive in six RBI for Houston.
In the open market, both players will be sure to garner heavy interest from teams across MLB, particularly from those willing to spend. The San Francisco Giants seemed willing to commit over $300 million and 12 years just on Carlos Correa. The New York Mets did.
The Mets have committed over $380 million in payroll just for 2023 alone, and of course the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees will always be vying to spend cash to acquire top talent.
The bottom line is the Astros should give both Valdez and Tucker extensions this offseason, or at least some point before they become free agents. While Houston has shown it is willing to let key faces walk, losing both Valdez and Tucker could prove to be one too many losses to overcome.