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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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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