Here's why we could see a shift in how the Houston Astros do business

Kyle Tucker lost his arbitration case this week. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Coming off winning a World Series, the Astros did something no other team in their position has ever done. They replaced their general manager after not signing him to an extension. Owner Jim Crane and former GM James Click had philosophical differences. Crane is a gambler. He likes to swing for the fences and make splashes. Big moves to keep the train moving. Click is more of a penny-pinching methodical mover. He prefers to build through the draft, make minimal free agent moves, and take things slow. He saves money while building a contender. Crane likes to strike while the iron is hot, and be damned if it costs them long-term.

Finding someone who aligns with Crane's “go for it” mentality that can keep this avalanche rolling could prove to be difficult. Who'd want to work for an owner that got rid of his GM after winning a World Series? Enter Dana Brown. As the former Braves Vice President of Scouting (2019-2022), Brown is responsible for the Braves' core young talent (all homegrown, by the way) all being under team control through the next five to six seasons. Not only has he helped build a team that beat the Astros in the World Series in the 2021 season, he also helped them re-sign that homegrown core before they hit the open market and got priced out.

Brown is also “analytics savvy”, in Crane's words, and a former player. Former players hold a special place in Crane's baseball ideology. He has consulted with and hired special advisors like Reggie Jackson and Jeff Bagwell. Team manager Dusty Baker is a former player. So was his predecessor, AJ Hinch. Crane didn't become a billionaire by being dumb. He knows what works. When asked about Crane's apprehension at signing long-term contracts, Brown hinted at Crane having to “Fasten” his seatbelt and be ready.

This is a clear nod to Brown's penchant for re-signing young talent.

Enter Kyle Tucker. The guy once affectionately referred to as “Ted” because of his lefty swing, is up next. Yordan Alvarez was re-signed to a six-year, $115 million dollar deal last June. Getting him, the team's best hitter, at a shade less than $20 million a year in the prime of his career was brilliant. He'll be 31 in the last year of his deal in 2028. Tucker is 26 right now. If he's re-signed to a six-year deal starting next season, he'll be 32 in the last year of that contract. The thing is, at what value, or per year average, are we talking about with Tucker?

This is where Brown's expertise comes into play. I believe Tucker will get re-signed. He recently lost his arbitration case and is slated to make $5 million dollars this season.

However, Framber Valdez, Jeremy Pena, and a few others are all going to need to be re-signed too. Offering them contracts before they hit arbitration allows the team to get them locked in before they have to go to court and talk nasty to one another. That's where things go south when it comes to negotiations on both sides. That, or the player hits the open market and a bidding war ensues. I highly doubt Crane wants to overpay, despite his affinity for making big moves.

I expect Tucker to command around $25 million a year. His argument will be he's just as good a hitter as Yordan, but a much better defensive player. He could seek $30 million or so like George Springer got from the Blue Jays. However, I see him taking a decent offer from the Astros to stay in a winning organization. Alex Bregman took six years for $100 million before he got to arbitration or the open market. Jose Altuve got re-signed at a much higher rate, but he was a former AL MVP at that point. Times have changed. The price of the brick has definitely gone up. I believe the Astros will get their bricks at the right price before a drought hits. If not, they'll risk them going to Hamsterdam where the market will set the price.

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