DEAL OR NO DEAL?
How latest “curveball” in contract negotiations could impact Houston Astros
Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown is off to a running start in his first few weeks on the job.
The Astros announced on Friday they reached an extension with pitcher Cristian Javier for five years worth $64 million with a $2 million signing bonus. The move was the first big domino for Houston under Brown and it could be a sign of things to come from the top.
One of the biggest knocks on former Astros GM James Click was the lack of big splash moves he made for the team, including when it came to the trade deadline and in free agency. Well, Brown’s first deal was certainly a big one. Javier played a key role in Houston’s 2022 World Series run.
At only 25 years old, Javier has the potential to be an important player in Houston’s future for the duration of his contract. As far as Brown goes, the signing could be an indicator of what his tenure will be like for the Astros. While Click’s first months with Houston were essentially hijacked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the former GM found himself in a bit of a similar position that Brown is in now.
Back in 2020 when Click first took over, the Astros knew two big pieces were soon going to hit the free agency market in George Springer and Carlos Correa. Ultimately, neither re-signed with the team. Houston’s success despite losing those two players made it a much easier pill to swallow.
Now, Houston has a few players that will need a big pay day to remain with the team long-term. Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez are two big pieces that will need to have a long-term decision made sooner rather than later. Looking even further into the future, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are set to become free agents after the 2024 season as well.
SOURCE: Framber Valdez could sign extension with Astros by Opening Day. According to a person close to the talks, he's looking for a contract of $150 million and up.@z101digital@ZDeportespic.twitter.com/z4CU7UfrMU
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) February 14, 2023
On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported that a previous report about Valdez and the Astros discussing a long-term deal was wrong. While that doesn’t mean those talks won’t begin eventually, it is worth noting in that same article Brown is quoted as wanting to prioritize keeping the team’s best talent with the Astros.
The Astros and Framber Valdez have had no negotiations about a long-term extension, his agent said on Tuesday morning, calling a report of Valdez signing before opening day for at least $150 million "absolutely 100 percent made up information.” - https://t.co/Qs9cHSIDwt
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 14, 2023
From a fan's viewpoint, being able to retain the team’s best talent will certainly make Brown a favorite. It ultimately comes down to executing those deals. If Brown can lock down long-term deals with Tucker and Valdez, it will signal a changing of the guard of how things were run for the past three years.
Of course re-signing top talent is only one piece of the puzzle. Brown’s ability to find new players and make in-season moves to help the Astros in the present will determine a lot, too.
Brown’s ability to close the deal with Javier is a step in the right direction when it comes to having a GM that will not be too conservative, which whether fair or not, was the reputation Click garnered. As of now, it looks like Brown is not shy to spend big to keep the Astros great.