A good friend of the blog, astrocolt45, posted a link that led to today’s post.
If Washington Nats’ wunderkind Juan Soto is worth more than 13 years / $350 MM (at least according to Scott Boras.
…..What are Houston Astros wunderkinds Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez worth?
Are these three players equivalent? No, because Soto so far is better and younger than Tucker and Alvarez. However, the gap between them is not like between Martin Maldonado and Mike Trout. These guys are in the same general neighborhood and the fact that neighborhood price tag is being set that high can be concerning to Astro fans.
Relative ages and controllability
- Juan Soto debuted at the age of 19 in 2018 and will turn 24 next October. He made $8.5 MM last year, quite a salary for a pre-arbitration eligible player. He will be arbitration-eligible this year for the first time and he is predicted by mlbtraderumors to make $16.2 MM this season. He will be eligible for free agency beginning the 2025 season after three potential years of arbitration (if he is not extended before then).
- Yordan Alvarez debuted in 2019 at the age of 21 (right before his 22nd birthday) and will turn 25 at the end of June. He is not arbitration-eligible until 2023 and would be a free agent heading into 2026. He has been making league minimum and based on what the Astros have done with similar players in the season before arbitration (like Carlos Correa), they may throw him a one year bone ($1 or 2 million) if they can’t extend him and buy out some arbitration.
- Kyle Tucker debuted in 2018 at the age of 21 and just turned 25 a month ago. He is also arbitration-eligible heading into 2023 and becomes a free agent heading into 2026. Similarly to Alvarez, the team should be giving him some type of raise heading into 2022 in his last pre-arb season.
- There is no argument that Soto has been the best of the three after completing his four seasons in the biggies. He was second in the Rookie of the year voting in 2018 and has received significant MVP support in the other three years, including coming in second in 2021. His 162 game average over that time has been the equivalent of a .301 BA/ .432 OBP/ .981 OPS with 118 runs, 34 HRs and 109 RBIs for every 162 games. His ability to take walks and get on base is huge as he has put up a .490 OBP and a .465 OBP the last two seasons.
- Alvarez has been almost as good as Soto in basically the equivalent of 1-1/2 seasons in the majors. He was Rookie of the Year in a little more than half of the 2018 season and that was a unanimous vote. He did lose the 2020 season to something other than the pandemic with his knee injury and his 2021 season was very good, but not at the level of the 2019 season. His 162 game average has a slash of .290 BA/.371 OBP/ .948 OPS with 106 runs, 42 HRs and 129 RBIs per a full slate of games. The one drawback with Alvarez is that, so far he is not an everyday fielder.
- Tucker’s career numbers are a bit behind both Soto and Alvarez, though he is coming off a 2021 season where he earned some MVP support, which was his best year yet. His 2021 numbers in 140 games was a quite excellent .294 BA/ .359 OBP/ .917 OPS with 83 runs, 30 HRs and 92 RBIs. There is no doubt that those runs/RBIs numbers would have been better if he was not stuck in the 7th spot in the lineup for most of the season. His 162 game average for his career has been .274 BA/ .338 OBP/ .917 OPS with 92 runs, 28 HRs and 97 RBIs over a season’s worth of games. He is an excellent fielder also and has stolen a pristine 28 of 32 bases in his career to date.
So, if Juan Soto is worth more than 13 years / $350 MM, what are we talking about for Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker? Of course, things can change between now and when a decision is made, but it would not be surprising to see the Astros try to extend them for $20-25 MM/ yr when they are getting close to free agency.
How the Astros transition to this next wave of long term commitments will have a long-ranging impact on both the quality and sustainability of their team.
I don’t think comparing Alvarez or Tucker to Soto is fair to either. Soto compares most favorably to Mike Trout. If you want to ignore the numbers and use the eyeball test, however, remember that in 2019 Soto crushed 2 HR off of Gerrit Cole and one off Justin Verlander in the World Series.
Boras was smart to advise Soto to turn down the deal because he’ll pull in $40-50M combined over the next few years and then command a sum just as high as $350M in free agency unless something derails his career. If that happens, Boras will find the overall pool of free agent dollars unchanged and probably get a couple of his clients signed using the money someone would have been paying to Soto.
But your question is what Tucker and Alvarez are worth. I think it depends on how Tucker compares to other free agent outfielders, but I don’t see either getting George Springer money. My knee jerk reaction is that Alvarez will be valued similarly to Nelson Cruz due to his defensive deficiencies, but Cruz was always underpaid (PED suspicions/failed test?). I think Tucker ends up in the $15-20M annual range on about a 5 year contract when he reaches FA unless he really has a breakout before then.
As far as Scott Boras, Carly Simon would say ‘You’re so Vain’. I, on the other hand, would say: “I Haven’t got time for the Pain’.
As far as the Nationals’ Wunderkind Carly and I agree that he is “a Legend in His own mind”.
As far as the Astros’ DH, all I can say is ‘Nobody Does it Better.”
As far as the Astros’ RF, all I can say is that I am in great ‘Anticipation’.
As far as the baseball season, I think it’s becoming clear that it is far from ‘Coming Around Again’.
OK, Mr. Bill, you have to fill me in on the bottom post on the last column. Was that I hit that I missed? Or a miss that you hit.?
The tune (and the theme) was skynard’s ‘Free Bird’
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I think both Tucker and Yordan need to put up another year of good numbers, and then the Astros can talk about buying out the Arb years. Right now, combined, I don’t think they would be near equal to Soto. But seriously I don’t think any one player is worth the value of the entire team even stretched over 10-15 years.
As long as the Astros don’t insult them with kind of offer that they gave Correa. Of course he may have turned don’t a very good offer but I guess we’ll never know.
Soto got walked 145 times in 2021. He’s pretty remarkable offensively. Tucker is better in the field. And if he puts up a 1.000 OPS during his next full season, meaning 2023, he’ll be in the discussion. Alvarez is always going to be primarily a DH, which means he’ll get half the money of the best 4 and 5 tool guys.
I think extension talks about these two are premature.
If they are as good as I think they are, their time is coming.
There is so much for the Astros to do for this year and 2023 that I think they need to handle business as it comes.
Signing Correa or finding his replacement is the next big thing.
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I want to make clear the purpose of this post was not related to doing an extension right now. But it was making me think about how much these guys might be worth when we get to that point and whether the team would be trying to buy-out either some arb years or free agent years.
I am a bit more interested in what the team signs them for this year. They would be totally within their rights to make them play another season at league minimum (whatever that ends up being), but I have a hard time not seeing the team offer them a bit more even if it is $1 or $2 MM a year just to avoid hard feelings.
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My comment was about the Astros and not about your content. I will add to it:
The Astros have a blueprint and that plan has shown itself since the 2015 season up until today.
1. Build a team up from within.
2. Add players from outside to complement your home grown players.
Identify core players and try to sign them to contracts that do not require lifetime commitments, but rewards the players with financial security.
4. Do not sign players who have told you they want contracts that do not fall into your plan, because then it becomes their plan, not yours.
5. Once you reach your goal of contending every year, stick to the plan of combining all your resources from within and add good players from to accomplish your goals every year.
This plan has worked so well that the Astros have been serious contenders every year, continue to show promise for the near future, and still have young players that fans are clamoring to be tied up for the future, even before they hit arbitration.
The plan has taken the Astros from a team nobody cared about in the baseball world, to a team that everyone sees as their #1 adversary.
Carlos Correa announced to the world years ago that he didn’t want to be part of the Astros plan, that he wanted them to change their plan to make him the center of the Houston Astros Universe. He’s the one who wants to take down their plan. The Astros have known this all along and now the rest of baseball is trying to transfer the blame to Houston, while ignoring what the Astros knew all along.
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Excellent post 1OP. I was just thinking, as and as it is to imagine, one of these days, our Astros will in fact fail to get into the post season. Do we go off the deep end?
It is reported: “The upcoming week looks to be a significant benchmark for negotiations. Both sides are planning to meet every single day, starting Monday, to attempt to reach a deal.”
Also it was reported: “No hotel or meeting rooms have been available to rent for the day since December 2nd of last year.”
We can squeeze them in at our Four Seasons Nevis. And I promise to get the inside scoop daily. I can put a fly on the wall of the ballroom.
I guess I scared everyone away today??
It mainly is we can’t discuss what is happening because this is mixed company. I write a sentence about Manfred, and then have to back space over all of it.
Dan, I was on the beach drinking too many frostie Carib beers.
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Maybe we should all join you March 5th for a different type of Spring Training.
* I guess I missed this, but Josh Miller is the Astros new pitching coach and Bill Murphy is now the minor league pitching coordinator.
* Ben Rosenthal was named the Red Sox assistant hitting coach in December of 2021. He was the hitting coach for the Astros in AAA. The Astros currently do not list a hitting coach in Sugarland. One would think they would want a hitting coach in Spring Training for Sugarland. Maybe they go with their two big league hitting instructors in ST until the lockout ends.
My guess is Kanzler but Rene Rojas is coming on strong. Joe Jerez gives him a lot of credit.
Murphy got valuable experience at the big league level last year, and probably got a feel for what Miller is looking for out of the particular crop on the verge of breaking through. With the new season up in the air, Bill Murphy needed to be the “pulse guy” on the ones we expect; Bermudez, Brown, Conine, Torres, Dubin, France. Considering Baker had to face a lot of the criticism of the ’21 bullpen, Dusty took on more responsibility than I thought would be the plan with Miller & Strom being at a crossroads in Astros career. I think Miller assumes the mantle of what Brent said of him, “a future star in this league.” Watch for Eric Niesen to be a quick riser too. Endersby said he’s the smartest he’s ever been around.
I have a question for people smarting than I am. (That is everyone). If you were an owner. Why would you not open ST, which my understanding is the players are unpaid anyway. At the same time, announce there will be a lockout prior to season opening. It would appear that it would put pressure on the players who would not want to have another year of “stop and start” ST.
If you were a player, why not report to Minor League Camp which is my understanding is starting on time.
I would assume that reporting to Minor League camp would be kind of the equivalent of crossing a picket line – I mean I know it’s not a strike but I’m sure it would not be what the union would want them to do
Lockout means locking out members of the MLBPA and that includes any players on the 40-man.
It’s an interesting point – I guess even though there are no salaries involved – there are costs related to running the camp and the owners would be risking having to pay for two camps – one now and another one later.
And perhaps they felt putting the pressure of the lockout on early might assure less of a chance of affecting the regular season
In today’s baseball economy, Juan Soto is worth more than $350 million, as many owners have shown they are willing to spend big bucks on less talented players. If he stays healthy and keeps producing at his normal rate, someone will pay him more when he is a free agent.
Tucker and Alvarez would be worth a bit less than Soto, even if Crane was willing to extend them 13 years. I agree with 1OP, I think the Astros want to figure out 2022 & 2023 first.
He has a couple of interesting stats about revenue and free agent monies. However, A plague o’ both your houses.. Often quoted as “A pox on both your houses.” This is a famous quote from Romeo and Juliet
Enjoyed reading this ….
Old Pro – I know you are a big UH basketball fan like I am. That was quite a hand to hand combat win yesterday in double OT against Wichita St. Tough to win when the other guys get more than twice as many free throws as your team did.
The all out desperate hustle the Coogs put out there, especially in that last 30 seconds of double OT ended up winning it.
Coach Sampson said they lost the Wisconsin game because they failed to execute an offensive play with 5 seconds left in the game. Since then they have practiced many times what to do – so when they got the ball back with 5.4 seconds left in a tie game they did not panic, but brought it down the length of the court and scored with more than a second to spare.
I loved how he elaborated on the point by saying that when they practiced what to do when they have five seconds left, that they actually learned what they can do and not do in five seconds.
I watched the game and continue to be impressed with how well they can play with so few players on the team.
Both teams played their hearts out. It was fun to watch.
I watched the golf, but it was anticlimactic compared to last week.
And we watched a couple of good movies.
I’m not sure when we are going to be able to watch Astros baseball. I really want to see them put it to the AL so bad!