Why the timing is just right for Framber Valdez and the Houston Astros

It's time for Framber to get his bag. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

What is the holdup, better why is there a holdup in the Astros signing pitcher Framber Valdez to a long-term contract?

Sure Justin Verlander won the American League Cy Young Award and was the ace of the Astros staff last season. But who was the Astros best pitcher down the stretch through the World Series? Who’d you rather have for 2023 and especially beyond – Verlander or Valdez?

Valdez had, by any measure you choose, an absolutely fantastic season in 2022. He finished with a 17-6 record and 2.82 earned run average. But, as Ron Popeil would say, wait there’s more!

Valdez made 31 starts and led the American League with 201.1 innings pitched. He led the league with three complete games. He made 25 consecutive quality starts, a Major League record for a single season. That’s a workhorse by modern baseball standards. It’s nothing new for Valdez, he also led all of baseball in innings pitched in 2020.

When the chips were down, Valdez was at his best. He won two games in last year’s World Series, including the critical Game 2 after the Phillies won the opener. Then he slammed the door shut with a 2-hit performance over six innings in the Game 6 clincher. He has a career 7-2 postseason record.

By comparison, Verlander got a no decision in Game 1, although surrendering five runs in five innings. He eventually earned his first World Series win, giving up four hits and four walks over five innings in Game 5.

Valdez has a rubber arm. He looks like he’s playing catch in the backyard when he pitches. If it’s his day to throw, he’s on the mound.

Last month, the Astros signed Valdez to a one-year, $6.8 million deal to avoid arbitration. He may be the best bargain in baseball. There have been reports this month that the Astros were putting the finishing touches on a long-term deal to keep Valdez in Houston. However, Valdez’s agent squashed those rumors on Tuesday, saying there’s been no discussion between the Astros and Valdez about an extension.

Why not? Keeping Valdez in an Astros uniform for years to come should be job No. 1 for owner Jim Crane and general manager Dana Brown. It’s important that Valdez knows the Astros are committed to him. We want him to be happy in Houston.

Of course $6.8 million isn’t exactly chump change, but you can make an argument that we’re talking about the most reliable pitcher in the American League. Right now, if you had to win one game, who’d you rather have on the bump? I’d take my chances with Valdez.

Yes, the Astros loathe to offer stupid money, long-term deals. But five years for Valdez might be a safe investment. He’s 29 years old and signed for 2023. A five-year extension would bring him to 35 years old. That’s the meat of a pitcher’s career.

As that famous baseball analyst Goldilocks would say, Framber Valdez is not too old, not too young, he’s just right.

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