GM says Astros working on extensions with Bregman, Altuve, others

February 9th, 2023

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Dana Brown has hit the ground running in his new role, saying at a press conference Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park that he’s working on signing franchise cornerstones and to contract extensions, in addition to seeking deals with arbitration-eligible players and .

Since Brown was hired on Jan. 26 from the Braves, with whom he spent the previous four seasons as the vice president of scouting, he has stressed the importance of retaining core players -- much like Atlanta has been able to do in the past several years with extensions to , , , , , and others. Brown said he was trained to aggressively sign players, and he appears to be putting his training to use.

“You guys will realize that we are getting closer to [signing] some of our guys,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, that’s an important part of what we do, and coming from Atlanta, we did that well. We probably handed out more years than anyone in baseball, if you did the math. That’s a big part of what we should do. We owe it to the fan base to keep the players in the city.”

Altuve, 32, has signed two extensions with Houston, including a five-year, $151 million deal in March 2018 that runs through '24. Bregman is also signed through '24, having inked a five-year, $100 million contract extension in March '19.

“After 2024, we have some players that we have to sign,” Brown said. “We are already engaged in conversations to get these players signed. It’s very important to the franchise and going forward. I hate to see good players walk out the door. Good players become my family and it’s heartbreaking, even for the fans, to watch good players walk out the door.”

Bregman, 28, wrote in a text message to that his agent, Scott Boras, and Brown “are talking and we’re all ears.”

Brown called Bregman -- the 2019 American League Most Valuable Player runner-up -- and Altuve -- the 2017 AL MVP and eight-time All-Star -- “core pieces” to an Astros team that has won four AL pennants and two World Series titles in the past six seasons. What’s more, Brown scouted Bregman when he was a player at LSU.

“He’s a really good player and he’s had an outstanding Major League career,” Brown said. “I think we would try to lock him up. We will be in talks with Boras about that, but at the end of the day, I believe in keeping players like that. He’s got great energy, great respect. His personality in the clubhouse is infectious. Everything I’ve heard about him from people that have been around him is even more outstanding.”

Tucker -- a first-time All-Star last year -- and Javier are both arbitration-eligible for the first time, and they were scheduled to have hearings this week. Brown said he is negotiating with Tucker’s agent, Casey Close, and Javier’s agent, Dan Lozano.

“We’ve had really good talks with Javier’s agent, Danny Lozano, and we feel really good about that one,” he said. “I’m communicating with Casey Close myself on the Tucker deal, and some deals you can get done a lot faster and you have to chip away with other deals. We’re going to do everything we can to get these players signed.”

Under owner Jim Crane, the Astros have not been willing to hand out extensions of longer than five years, which has led them to lose multiple star players -- , and -- in free agency in recent years. They locked up Bregman and slugger before they hit arbitration, and they are now trying to do the same with Tucker and Javier. All-Star lefty is also an extension candidate.

“I talked to Jim -- fasten your seatbelts. It’s time,” Brown said. “If you don’t want players to walk out the door, you have to really be locked in to how good this player is, what do you project his future to be, and try to get him locked up. I think the players are motivated to get it done, sometimes the agents are motivated [to get] it done, and I think we can meet somewhere in the middle, that you can continue to sustain the winning if you can continue to sign good players.”