There’s no way around it. Kyle Tucker has been superb for the Houston Astros this season and would be smack dab in the middle of MVP conversations if Shohei Ohtani didn’t exist. Tucker has blasted 24 homers, stolen 24 bags, has a .901 OPS, and has had some incredible moments throughout the season, including a go-ahead grand slam the other week against the Orioles.
Kyle Tucker is a part of the core of this Astros team. He is undeniably important to the future of this ball club, as well as the present. Houston Astros General Manager Dana Brown even said he’s going to make sure that Kyle Tucker is an Astros lifer. Some pretty big words to back up there from Dana Brown. So, with all of that being said, what would a reasonable Kyle Tucker contract extension look like?
While keeping Kyle Tucker on this team, there are some question marks before Tucker is an unrestricted free agent. All of Michael Brantley, Martín Maldonado, Ryne Stanek, and Phil Maton become free agents after this season. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Hector Neris, and Kendall Graveman become free agents after the 2024 season. That’s a good bit of money freed up in two off-seasons, but a good number of those players you’d expect the Astros to attempt to retain.
For this exercise let’s just say that Stanek and Maton are retained for 2024, and Altuve and Bregman reach extension agreements prior to their free agency in 2025. I’m not sure what those contracts look like, but that’s a lot of money that will be tied up, especially after the 2024 season with two cornerstones of your franchise you’re having to keep.
The Astros total payroll allocations for 2023, according to spotrac.com, is $236,765,258. A small price to pay for hopes of another World Series. For 2024, the Astros currently have $179,478,141 on the books before any free agents, and arbitration hearings, including Kyle Tucker’s.
Luckily with the Justin Verlander trade a few weeks ago, it shows that ownership is still wanting to compete beyond this season. Yordan Alvarez and Cristian Javier are both already under contract for the foreseeable future. The stars are aligning for a Tucker contract extension, but what does that really look like?
Astros Twitter has been longing for a Kyle Tucker contract extension since last season, even though he won’t become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2025 season. In an ideal world, Dana Brown would have Tucker extend during this upcoming off-season and we wouldn’t have to be talking about it for another year. However, since Tucker is under contract for a few more years, there isn’t a huge rush from the front office perspective, technically.
On one end, that’s great because the Astros can figure out their future finances by taking care of Altuve or Bregman early, and know what their dollars look like for years to come. On the other hand, making Kyle Tucker go through the arbitration process for another season may not be the best idea. Dana Brown had nothing to do with this past off-seasons arbitration hearing, so hopefully there’s good faith with the Tucker camp that Brown will get a deal done for him.
It seems as if baseball owners and general managers are steering away from lengthy contracts, and the Houston Astros haven’t been known to do any extensions or free agency contracts over five years at a time. It’s quite the conundrum to deal with when you’re talking about future MVP Kyle Tucker. He’s deserving of more than five years on a contract, while also being paid like one of the best five outfielders in baseball.
Let’s say an eight year contract gets it done for Tucker at the right dollar. It would buy out his next two arbitration years, and tack on six years after that with the Astros. Sure, Jim Crane hasn’t done anything more than five year extensions in the past, BUT, this is really only a six year contract extension. Eight years seems like a happy compromise from the massive 10-12 year deals, and what Crane has dealt out in the past.
Now for the money. Tucker is one of the best players in baseball, and getting his contract done before any outrageous Shohei Ohtani contract is dealt could be important. It’s not my money, so I could be wrong, but $235 million over eight seasons seems like the right number. The annual average value (AAV) would come out to right around $29.375 million a season, and seem incredibly fair for Tucker’s value.
Bryce Harper’s AAV is just over $25 million, and Mike Trout’s AAV is around $35.5 million. Putting Tucker smack dab in the middle of those two superstars feels right to me. So, what would a reasonable Kyle Tucker contract extension look like to you Astros fans?