Dollar Signs

Bregman deal could easily pay off for Astros as well as the player

Alex Bregman, um, hit it big with his contract. Getty Images

Alex Bregman proved this week that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. He alerted the media that he was displeased with his $41,000 raise after carrying the team last year and boy did it pay off to the tune of a $100,000,000 extension through 2024.

Is it a good deal? We shall see. It's an awfully big risk for a team that didn't have to take it. Suppose he gets hurt? Suppose his numbers fall off badly?

Remember this is the same organization that kept first round draft pick George Springer in the minors until he was 24 years old even though he had played college ball and was hitting 37 home runs and stealing 45 bases in the minors. He was none too pleased that he won't hit free agency until he's 31. Hopefully his time spent here has softened him some on the subject.

This is also the same organization that just went to arbitration with former No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa over $750,000. That's a pittance in the baseball world. He was asking for $5,000,000. They offered $4,250,000. The arbitrator sided with Correa. I would imagine the Astros weren't all that critical of Correa although they could have been. He just wasn't the same guy that many of us thought he would be after he got back from his back injury.

Think about where we were a year ago today. Correa was coming off a year in which he was a cog in a World Series winner, an all-star who hit .315 with 24 HR and 84 RBI and .941 OPS. He was thought to be one of the top five young players in the game, a guy you built your team around. A season later he's fighting for $750,000 while his less experienced teammate is raking in a $100,000,000 raise.

That $100M will be money well spent if Bregman continues on the path he is on. It will actually be a bargain. A couple of other third basemen who have been going through the process are the Cubs Kris Bryant and the Rockies Nolan Arenado. Bryant got a record 10.85M deal a year ago and came to terms on a $12.9M deal this offseason. Arenado just got a new 8 year, $260M contract. Bryant will be coming to terms on that kind of long term deal soon.

The Astros didn't want to haggle with the boisterous Bregman every year. He's not afraid to speak his mind. We know that. He's not complaining now but we'll see how he feels about this deal in 2024. Right now $20M through these arbitration years is made for TV, feel good kinda stuff. When he's still making that two years into what his free agency would have been he might not have that special feeling anymore, especially when the Mike Trout's $430M deal is halfway home.

Bregman's deal seems like a lot now but in the long run, if he continues to play at the level he established last year, this could be a very team friendly contract by the end.

On the flip side, if he falls off this could be a devastating move. In reality Bregman has only been at this level for a year and a half. He wasn't very good midway through the '17 season, hitting at the bottom of the order. On July 2 his average was down to .244 for the season but then something clicked. In July he hit .329. In August he hit .345 and the legend was born.

Quick, what's Bregman's post season average?

I was shocked to see it's just .229 but that's deceiving. His playoff on-base percentage is .353. Boston walked or hit him nine times in last year's ALCS. That's some healthy respect and for good reason. They saw his clutch gene up close. His homer off Chris Sale in game 4 of the '17 ALDS was a back breaker. Add to it his World Series Game 5 heroics and his monster series against the Indians last year and you've got a guy who's not only really good, he's not afraid to be great.

He's become one of baseball's best. There is always the fear that he could fall off and that contract could become an albatross but I think the Astros probably see his work ethic and that giant chip he carries on his shoulder all the time and they have the utmost confidence that he'll live up to every penny and then some.

Here's to hoping that he's pissed off again about how much he's getting paid six years from now.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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