The Astros officially announced the 6 year/ $115 MM extension of Yordan Alvarez yesterday, a deal that was unofficially leaked over the weekend. The Astros bought out the three seasons of Alvarez’s arbitration and the first three seasons of his free agency.
The deal breaks down as follows:
- $5 MM signing bonus
- $7 MM for 2023
- $10 MM for 2024
- $15 MM for 2025
- $26 MM for 2026 thru 2028 each
There has been a lot of back and forth on whether Yordan was had with this deal. For folks like us, we would say – just give me one of those years (or the bonus), and we would be happy, but this is the nutball world of baseball and finances. It is possible that Yordan could have beat these numbers by waiting and going to arbitration and then going to free agency. But suppose he had an injury or two along the way like he suffered in 2020. In that case, he could have been a bit underpaid in arbitration like Carlos Correa faced, as Carlos only made $24 MM in his arbitration years due to missing time, and Alvarez is guaranteed $32 MM plus the bonus.
This contract limits some of the risks for both sides. Yordan gets paid early (who knows what his family situation might be) and solidly and does not have to worry about anything but baseball for the next 6 and a half seasons. The team gets an excellent talent for 3 more seasons of control beyond arbitration without having to outbid the world for Yordan’s services. Then there is the whole argument about whether a DH should be getting the huge money, but as Yordan has shown lately, he is not a fielder like Chas McCormick or Kyle Tucker. He is not a Greg Luzinski out there either.
The obvious follow-up question is, will Kyle Tucker be extended next, and what would that extension look like? Tucker was in the same situation as Alvarez, as he is eligible for arbitration heading into 2023 and eligible for free agency heading into 2026.
Even though they’ve gotten there in different ways, it is easy to compare Yordan Alvarez’s and Kyle Tucker’s careers to date. Alvarez had a transcendent Rookie of the Year debut in 2019, basically missed all of 2020 with his knee surgery and has been primarily full time since then. Tucker had a bad cameo in 2018 and a good cameo in 2019 and has been close to a full-time player ever since.
Tucker has 174 ABs in 2022 and 1020 ABs in his career. Alvarez has 177 ABs in 2022 and 1035 ABs in his career. That is so close that we can look at them one to one, as shown below.
By almost any metrics, Alvarez is the better hitter in 2022 and his career. Tucker’s numbers are quite good, but Alvarez’s stats are probably top 5 in the majors. The fantastic thing is when you go to the last column, which shows WAR, the overall value of each player. Tucker is shown as a bit better. This makes sense since Tucker has speed, as demonstrated by his 38 steals in 43 attempts (that is very impressive). And, of course, Tucker plays defense at near Gold Glove level, and he plays it basically every game. Alvarez plays about half the time in the field, and though improved, he is not in the area code of Tucker when it comes to fielding. Alvarez does have Tucker beat in one area that can’t be changed as he is about a half a year younger.
The bottom line is that Tucker should be getting a contract offer in the same range as Alvarez. Unless he decides to ride things out in arbitration the next three seasons following this one and jump to free agency at that point. Unlike Carlos Correa, Tucker keeps his thoughts bottled up, so there is no telling what direction he wants to go.
So, a few questions for you….
- Who got the better of the Alvarez signing, or was it a win-win? (Or, as Michael Scott would say – a win-win-win?)
- Would you attempt to early extend Tucker?
- What do you think he is worth?
- Do you think Tucker will be as likely to be interested in the extension as Alvarez was?