That shouldn’t come as a surprise as the ingredients and particulars are different with these two players.
While most everyone would agree that a two or three year deal with Castro would be reasonable, that’s probably more “reasonable” from a team standpoint and not as advantageous for Castro.
Moreover, Altuve and Castro aren’t the same players, don’t bring the same value and offer different comparables.
Like it or not (and you can grimace if you want), Castro actually ranks on the top side of the list of catchers in the AL. As a hitter. At 26, he brings a lot to the table. Yes, potential and upside are part of that package, but his breakout 2013 season began to put some meat on the bones of that skeleton.
Castro has power in his package. Altuve brings speed and SB potential. Power outranks speed for the most part, especially when money’s on the table.
Castro brings run production, as in RBI. Altuve does not, at least not in the realm of his position.
Believe it or not, each scores about the same number of runs (per AB) as the other. At least through the early parts of their careers. And, that may obviously change if Altuve stays near the top of the order and the Astros add some true middle-of-the-order hitters.
Both players will likely hit in that .275-.300 range, but Castro will get on base more, if their walks-to-date is an indicator.
Indeed, size is a factor. Will Altuve’s frame hold up over a long career? Other than his knees, Castro’s size will likely allow him to play the game longer.
Frankly, Castro missing the entire 2012 season with that knee injury has likely influenced long-term decisions, in more ways than one.
Yes, he still has to prove he’s returned and that the knee won’t be a factor. But more importantly, it interrupted the arbitration process. Castro had his first arb-year in 2014. Altuve wasn’t due arbitration until 2015. Since he got “credit” for major league service while sitting out, Castro reached his arbitration years effectively without the full complement of stats.
If the two sides had not agreed Friday, we could have seen a more clear picture perhaps since both sides would have been forced to present their numbers. Would Castro have asked for $3 million or more? Would the Astros have offered less than $2 million? Does either side actually believe those numbers?
Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros and Castro come to terms on a longer deal at some point this year. Note “year”, not necessarily “season”. The next 2-3 years may well determine if Castro remains an Astro long-term. It’s likely Altuve will win that longevity battle and play more years in Houston than Castro.
But when it comes to Castro and Altuve comparisons (especially in the money game), there simply aren’t many. And one reason is that Castro is simply a more valuable player.