The Houston Astros have signed 23-year-old second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension, the team announced on Saturday.
The deal is worth $12.5 million in total and includes $6M and $6.5M club options for 2018 and 2019 respectively, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, locking up Altuve through his arbitration years.
The third-year pro owns a .284 career batting average and 61 career stolen bases. He was an All-Star in 2012, when he broke out with a .290 average, 33 steals and a .740 OPS in his first full season.
The Astros signed Altuve as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2007.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, who first reported the deal, that the extension serves to eliminate "the back-and-forth" that occurs during the arbitration process each year.
“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.”
Altuve is the first core player Luhnow has locked up since he took over last season. He traded veteran infielder Jed Lowrie to the Athletics and reliever Wilton Lopez to the Rockies during the offseason.
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.Corcoran: Jarred Cosart’s remarkable debut halts Rays’ streak
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.