It's hard to imagine the Astros winning the 2017 World Series without Jose Altuve, and now Houston fans will get to watch the heart and soul of their club for a long time to come.
Altuve and the Astros formally agreed to a five-year contract extension Monday that will be worth $151 million and begin in 2020. The club announced Altuve's new deal during a news conference at the club's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. The pact will lock up the reigning American League MVP Award winner with Houston through his age-34 season.
According to a tweet by the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome, Altuve's new deal includes a full no-trade clause.
Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Nolan Ryan -- along with many of Altuve's teammates -- were in attendance at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to celebrate Altuve's extension. The deal is the richest in Astros history, surpassing the six-year, $100 million contract Houston gave Carlos Lee in 2006. Altuve originally signed a four-year, $12.5 million deal in '13 that included a $6 million option for 2018 and $6.5 million for '19.
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"This is a very important day for me," said Altuve, "and the most important thing for me is [my teammates] being here. Everything is done, and now I can just play baseball."
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Altuve's lucrative extension is much more commensurate with the all-around superstar he's become. The five-time All-Star is coming off his best season yet as a Major Leaguer, having captured the AL batting title with a .346 average with 24 home runs and 32 steals over 153 games. Altuve went on to hit .310 with seven home runs in the postseason -- including three long balls in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against Chris Sale and the Red Sox -- to help power the Astros to their first World Series championship.
"These aren't the types of deals that get done on their own," said general manager Jeff Luhnow. "It takes commitment from both sides. Jose was committed to staying in Houston and building his legacy as an Astro.
"This is our franchise player, and he's getting better every year," Luhnow added. "Quite frankly, this [extension] is something we've discussed every year for the past three years, it just all came together this year. This is the perfect timing for our franchise."
Altuve will look to extend his own string of history, having become the first player to lead his league outright in hits in four consecutive seasons in 2017. More importantly, he'll look to lead a heavily favored Astros club back into October as Houston vies to become the first club to win back-to-back World Series championships since the Yankees from 1998-2000.
"When your best players are your best examples, it makes my job easy," said manager AJ Hinch. "There's stability that comes with writing Jose's name in the lineup every day, and the fact that he's going to stay an Astro is good news for him and for his teammates and this organization. He's the most dependable player around."
Altuve figures to be penciled right in the middle of the Hinch's lineup March 29, when Houston takes on the rival Rangers for Opening Day in Arlington.