LET'S GO TO THE TAPE
Here's why Astros stance on Kyle Tucker's future could be misleading
Last week, Astros general manager Dana Brown went on a Houston radio station and dropped a straightforward, simple declarative statement with no wiggle room:
“Let’s say this, Kyle Tucker will be a Houston Astro for his career.”
Astros World reacted with glee and media quickly flashed stories with headlines blaring:
“Houston GM: Kyle Tucker an Astro for life.”
“Astros GM Dana Brown: Tucker will be a Houston Astro for career.”
“Dana Brown says the Astros will extend Kyle Tucker.”
The buzz was understandable. Tucker is an amazing player, a true 5-tool guy, and he’s only 26 years old. The Astros would be crazy not to lock down this superstar for however long and however much it takes. It was fantastic news that Tucker would be an Astro for life. Way to go, general manager Brown and owner Jim Crane!
But hold on, were Astros fans and the media listening with their hearts instead of their ears? Let’s go to the tape and allow Brown to finish his radio interview.
“I think he really wants to stay here.”
“We feel strongly about getting something done.”
“We have Tucker for a couple more years (before he becomes a free agent).”
“We will deal with the agent when we get the time in the off-season.”
“I think” and “we will deal in the off-season” and “we have Tucker for a couple more years” sure doesn’t sound like anything is a done deal. In fact, it sounds more like wishful thinking than ink on paper. He probably got excited and said what he thought the audience wanted to hear.
Here’s what Brown meant to say or at least should have said:
“We would love to have Tucker finish his career in Houston, but we’re more focused on winning the American League West right now. We haven’t spoken with Tucker’s agent and won’t do so until the off-season. But there’s no need to hurry because Tucker isn’t eligible for free agency for two more seasons. Giving Tucker an extension is not at the top of our to-do list. But our fingers are crossed that eventually we’ll get a deal done.”
It takes two to tango, and so far we’re only hearing one set of footsteps. Tucker has not said a word about contract negotiations. One thing for sure, Brown certainly gave Tucker more leverage when negotiations ultimately happen.
It appears that the team hasn't even contacted Tucker's agent to start talking, let alone offering an unprecedented, long-term deal that would keep Tucker here for possibly 12 more years or even longer. He’s 14 years from 40.
Brown assuring fans that Tucker is here to say is like making an offer on a house and calling a moving company before the seller accepts your offer.
If Howie Mandel were to ask “deal or no deal?,” right now the answer is “no deal.”
It's well known that the Astros are loathe to offer long-term contracts for giant money. You know the names: Carlos Correa, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, George Springer. Each one kissed the Astros goodbye for another team offering more money or more years, or both.
Of course Tucker is a different story. He is a better long-term risk than any of those others. Tucker is a fan favorite, young, fast, strong and durable. He's the whole package and a Gold Glove. He’s got “it.”
It's conceivable that the Astros could bite the bullet, swallow their disdain for big money and long-term deals and offer Tucker, let's say, eight years for $35 million per. But what if the Dodgers or Padres or Giants or Red Sox or Yankees offer 10 years at $40 million per?
Then “he really wants to stay here” takes the next flight to the coast.