Jose Altuve’s hefty extension a hit with Astros teammates
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Without announcement or much fanfare, they shuffled one by one from the clubhouse on Monday morning, down a hallway and out of the gate in left field at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, congregating at the backstop netting behind the assembled crowd.
Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel sat among the crowd, which included Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Jeff Bagwell.
Dallas Keuchel, George Springer and Alex Bregman stood in a row feet away, cognizant they were making the man responsible for this fanfare more nervous than he already was.
“You know I don’t like talking in front of a lot of people,” Jose Altuve said.
Monday morning was the latest coronation for the face of the franchise, whose $151 million extension through 2024 gives him the richest contract in Astros history.
Still, the second baseman deflected all attention.
“The most important thing to me is those guys,” Altuve said from the dais at home plate. “They don’t have to be here; they’re here because they want to be. Let me tell you something, guys: You guys made my day.”
Carryover into the clubhouse after the announcement was expected, and palpable, both before and after the Astros’ Grapefruit League game against the Mets on Monday.
“Even in my short time here, I’ve easily seen what he means to that city and how that city has embraced him,” said Justin Verlander shortly after tossing seven scoreless innings.
“In this clubhouse, I think everybody is ecstatic for him. This is a very unique clubhouse, a special clubhouse, and it’s very tightknit. It seems like family; everybody gets along so well. I think everyone is so excited for him and his family and truly, truly happy to see somebody like Jose be able to sign a contract like that.”
The announcement, coupled with the club’s acquisition of Verlander last August, signaled the franchise’s intention to keep its winning window open and reaffirmed owner Jim Crane’s longstanding plan to spend when the time is right.
“It sets a different tone in this clubhouse,” said Correa, who is now guaranteed to play with Altuve through at least 2021.
“It seems like times are changing. Guys like me and Bregman and Springer, guys that are coming up that are young and talented, we probably have a chance to play with the Houston Astros for the long haul. Obviously, we love to play here, we love this clubhouse, we love our teammates. And when you have one of the best players in the game staying here for a few more years, it gives you confidence to keep competing every single year.”
The $151 million Altuve got to extend his contract through 2024 includes $130 millon for his average salary of $26 million from 2020 to 2024. He also will get $21 million in bonuses: $1 million payable when the deal is approved by the commissioner’s office and $10 million payments on July 1 of 2018 and 2019. His base salaries for 2018 and 2019 remain $6 million and $6.5 million, respectively.