'Houston is my home': Altuve, Astros cement lifelong partnership

Franchise icon emphasizes connection to city in discussing 5-year contract extension

February 7th, 2024

HOUSTON – No one knew much about when he was unexpectedly called up from Double-A in the summer of 2011, except that he was 5-foot-6 and was hitting .389. The Astros had just traded veteran Jeff Keppinger as part of the tear down of their big league roster and needed a replacement.

“When I got called up the first time back in 2011, they told me it was just something temporary until they find another second baseman,” Altuve said.

More than a decade later, Altuve is still the Astros’ starting second baseman – a position he will hold down for at least another six seasons after he signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension on Tuesday. The deal will start in 2025 and will take Altuve through his age-39 season, meaning he’s going to play his entire career in Houston.

“Jose Altuve is a special human being,” general manager Dana Brown said. “Jose Altuve is the heartbeat of his organization. He’s a franchise player. He’s on pace to be in the Hall of Fame. He’s a fan favorite and without a doubt, he’s a spark to our clubhouse, to our dugout and he’s a Houston Astro for life.”

At a press conference Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, Altuve talked extensively about what Houston means to him and his family and his love for his teammates. Ultimately, it was his desire to remain in Houston that made it possible to get a deal done.

“I think the best-case scenario was always here,” he said. “I come back every day after a night game and I see my daughter sleeping and I can wake up the next day and take her to school.”

The extension, which pays $30 million in each season from 2025-27 and $10 million in ’28 and ’29 (there’s a $15 million signing bonus), gives Altuve a chance to cement his legacy as the greatest player in club history. And, if he stays healthy, he’s likely to get 3,000 hits in a Houston uniform, joining Craig Biggio as a lifelong Astro who reached that mark.

“The length of this contract was very important so he could achieve and have an opportunity to get 3,000 hits and being able to achieve a goal, and also to stay with a core group of people you knew was going give this club an opportunity to be competitive,” Altuve’s agent, Scott Boras, said.

Biggio and several current Astros, including Yordan Alvarez, Jeremy Peña and Lance McCullers Jr., were among those who watched the press conference in the back of the room.

“We’re a family, so it means a lot,” Altuve said. “Like I said, I played the game for them, I play for the fans. It means so much they’re here supporting me on a day like that.”

Altuve is so beloved in Houston that mayor John Whitmire proclaimed Feb. 7, 2024, as Jose Altuve Day in Houston. The date (2/7) has some synergy considering Altuve’s jersey number is 27.

“Houston is my home,” Altuve said. “I have obviously two homes. I grew up in Venezuela, my country. Every time I go there, I tell my wife, ‘Let’s go home.’ And when it’s time to come back, I tell her, ‘Let’s come back home.’ It’s good to have two places where you think you can live, where you can call home. We’re living the best life in Venezuela and in Houston.”

Boras said Altuve made it clear he wanted to remain in Houston, which meant Altuve was never going to hit the open market. This is his third extension he’s signed with the Astros, joining a four-year, $12.5 million extension in 2013 and then a five-year, $151 million deal in March 2018.

“I think everything Jose wanted was here,” Boras said. “You can counsel them on the economics and obviously in a free market, it’s never going to be what it is in a unilateral market, but I think for Jose that was really not about the point of what he was doing.”

Last year, Altuve was limited to 90 games because of a pair of stints on the injured list, hitting .311 with 17 homers, 14 steals and 51 RBIs. He missed the first 43 games of the regular season after having surgery to repair a fractured thumb suffered when he was struck by a pitch in the World Baseball Classic, and he missed 17 games in July with a left oblique strain.

Altuve is among the franchise’s all-time leaders in multiple categories. He ranks first in career batting average (.307); third in hits (2,047), doubles (400), runs (1,062) and stolen bases (293); and fifth in home runs (209). He’s 953 hits shy of reaching 3,000.

“I love the game and love playing baseball,” Altuve said.