Astros sign Yordan Alvarez for a six-year extension


Astros sign Yordan Alvarez for a six-year extension

12:48 p.m.: Alvarez’s contract collapses in the form of a $5 million signing bonus, followed by annual salaries of $7 million (2023), $10 million (2024), $15 million (2025), and $26 million -Dollar (2026-28), Mark Berman of Houston’s FOX 26 reports (Twitter link). He has already passed an examination.

12:19 p.m.: The Astros have agreed to a six-year, $115 million contract extension Jordan Alvarezreports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). The contract begins next season and covers the 2023-28 seasons. Alvarez is represented by MVP Sports Group.

Alvarez, who turned 25 later this month, was on track to hit free agency after the 2025 season and would have hit the open market at just 28. Instead, his new contract will buy out all three of his arbitration seasons and give the Astros control of Alvarez’s first three free-agent seasons. Technically, Alvarez won’t reach three years of major league service until tomorrow, but with the contract starting next year it can effectively be viewed as the second-largest contract ever signed by a player in the three-plus league, only behind Freddie Freeman‘s eight-year extension with the Braves worth $135 million in 2014.

Acquired in a smooth raid that sent helpers Josh Fields to the Dodgers, Alvarez burst onto the major league scene in 2019 when he stomped at a .313/.412/.655 pace and smashed 27 home runs in just 369 plate appearances. Despite spending barely half the season in the majors (87 games), Alvarez was unanimously named American League Rookie of the Year. While he missed almost all of the 2020 season due to arthroscopic surgery performed on both knees, he was back in full force a year later, hitting the plate .277/.346/.531 with 33 homers in 598 drives.

Ever since his big league debut, Alvarez has simply been one of the best players in the world. He’s a career hitter of .287/.370/.576, and the resulting 156 wRC+ (indicating he’s 56% better than the league average hitter) is just ahead of him Juan Soto and only hiking trails Mike Trout (177) among all qualified MLB batsmen in that range.

Alvarez achieves his dominance on the plate through a keen eye (10.8% walk rate), improved stick-to-ball skills (his 17.6% strikeout rate is lower than his 25.5% mark rookie year) and mostly by hitting the Ever-loving snot out of the ball. As of 2019, Alvarez has ranked third in the majors for both average exit speed (93.3 mph) and overall hard hit rate (54.2%), as well as eighth for barrel rate (16.1%) per stat cast. He has taken this flawless Statcast profile to new heights in 2022 as he currently leads the majors in hard hit rate, expected slugging percentage and expected wOBA.

While Alvarez is first and foremost a proven hitter and is expected to spend even less time on the field as he ages, he still sees a decent chunk of his time in left field. He’s logged 155 innings and 540 innings in 278 big league games there this year. He’s not considered a strong outfielder, but he hasn’t exactly received butcher-like ratings for his defenses to this point either (-2 defensive runs saved, 0.3 ultimate zone rating, and a rather declining -5 outs above average). No one will mistake Alvarez for a potential Gold Glove contender, but as an occasional option to give the Astros’ regular outfielders a breather, he’s a passable option that can be counted on to make the routine plays.

Alvarez has now been committed and surpassed longer than any other Astros player Lance McCullers Jr., whose contract runs until the 2026 season. Its extension gives the ‘Stros a whopping $107 million on the books next year before the offseason even begins, and with several key arbitrations (eg Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez, Christian Javier) to address. Houston has pledged more than $100 million through the 2024 season, although that’s not a huge expense for a team that flirted with the luxury tax in 2021 and increased its actual 2021 payroll to $190 million last year.

The Alvarez expansion ensures that he, Tucker, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve will continue to anchor Houston’s lineup through at least the 2024 season (when Alruve and Bregman’s contracts expire). Young short stop Jeremy Pena has so far given every reason to believe he can be included in that core group of hitters, and the Astros are hoping the prospects are similar Pedro Leon, Colin Barbier and Korey Lee could eventually do the same.

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