Houston Chronicle

Extensions for Bregman, Altuve go on back burner

- By Chandler Rome STAFF WRITER

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Extending franchise cornerston­es Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve will become more of a priority next winter, Astros general manager Dana Brown said this week, dousing some of the speculatio­n he fueled earlier this spring.

Both Altuve and Bregman have two years remaining on the nine-figure extensions they signed in 2018 and 2019, respective­ly, but Brown seemed bullish earlier this spring on extending both sooner rather than later. Bregman will be the team’s highest paid player this season with a $30.5 million salary. Altuve is just behind at $29.2 million.

“It’s probably going to be more like next year,” Brown said of signing both to new deals. “We made it clear that we want to keep them both around. This is part of getting through (2025), getting to (2026), some more time to replenish the system without overhaulin­g the roster.”

Both men are represente­d by mega-agent Scott Boras, who tends to prefer his clients test the freeagent market when eligible. Boras did, however, negotiate two pre-free agency extensions with the Astros and owner Jim Crane: Altuve’s five-year, $151 million pact in 2018 and starter Lance McCullers Jr.’s five-year, $85 million contract in 2021.

Earlier this spring, Altuve said he “hopes to retire” in Houston and seemed enthused that Brown expressed as much to Boras. Altuve will be 34 when his current contract expires and conceivabl­y would be willing to sign the type of contract Crane prefers. The owner never has given anything longer than a six-year contract, either via free agency or extension.

Bregman is another matter. He could enter free agency at age 30 and demand the sort of contract Crane is averse to awarding. San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado’s 10-year, $350 million extension earlier this spring could serve as a barometer of sorts for the third base market.

“Ten years for me, I’m just very uncomforta­ble,” Brown said earlier this week, referring to no player in particular. “I’d rather extend guys in their (arbitratio­n) years as opposed to waiting until they’re free agents and doing longterm deals. I just don’t ever want to put the team, organizati­on and ownership under that type of pressure. We know players change, and … these long contracts feel very uncomforta­ble to me.”

Though he reiterated the team’s desire to keep Altuve and Bregman for their entire careers, Brown seemed far more engaged in extension discussion­s for outfielder Kyle Tucker and starter Framber Valdez, both of whom have three seasons of club control remaining.

Thursday’s soft deadline to finish any deal came and went without movement on either front, meaning Tucker and Valdez are primed to join Bregman and Altuve in the “next year” extension talk.

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