Astros take next step in rebuilding, sign Altuve
The Astros announced Saturday they had signed popular second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension with a pair of option years, marking the team’s first significant contract commitment under general manager Jeff Luhnow. The deal was first reported by MLB.com.
The extension begins in 2014 and runs through the 2017 season and provides the club with options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Additional terms were not disclosed, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported the deal is worth $12.5 million for four years with two club options for $6 million and $6.5 million.
“Jose values security and we value Jose, and it starts with that,” Luhnow said. “He’s done a terrific job for us ever since getting called up from Double-A two years ago, and he’s been a consistent force in our lineup. He just knows how to hit and he’s a good defender at second base, and when you get a player like that who can add value, not only when he’s at the plate but on the base paths, but also when he’s out there at second base, those are the types of guys we feel we need to have and have long-term. Removing some of the uncertainty for him and for us at this point makes sense.”
The Astros are essentially buying out Altuve’s three arbitration years (though 2017) and doing it in a relatively cost-friendly manner for the team.
Luhnow spent most of his first year on the job trading away players who were in the midst of multi-year contracts in exchange for prospects as the Astros went full-bore in their plan to rebuild through the Draft and player development. The Astros opened this year with a payroll of about $22 million, with Bud Norris ($3 million) as the highest-paid player.
The Altuve deal, which has been in the work for a couple of weeks with talks intensifying in the last few days, means the club is taking the next step in its rebuilding process by locking up some young players it feels will be building blocks for the future. All-Star catcher Jason Castro could fit that mold.
“This won’t be the last time we tie up one of our young players,” Luhnow said. “In this case, it made a lot of sense, both in terms of timing and length of deal and so forth, but it’s something we’re going to look at.
“We’re going to have a lot of exciting young talent coming through our system and to the big leagues and once we feel there’s enough certainty on our side that the player is going to be around and be able to contribute at the level we need him to for the long haul, we’re going to try to get deals done. It eliminates some of the back-and-forth that goes on year in and year out with arbitration and gives the player some security and gives us some certainly know the player is going to be there for us.”
Altuve, 23, was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011 after the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger and plugged into the starting lineup. He batted .284 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 85 games as a rookie before a breakout season in 2012, when he hit .290 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 33 steals en route to an All-Star Game berth.
He is hitting .280 with three homers, 28 RBIs and 21 stolen bases through 86 games this season.