The defending World Series champions have signed a core player to a long-term extension. The Houston Astros have inked righty Cristian Javier to a five-year contract, the team announced Friday. It is worth $64 million and includes a $2 million signing bonus, reports the Houston Chronicle. The five-year deal buys out Javier's three arbitration years and two free agent years.
"Cristian is an outstanding pitcher, so we are really excited about signing him to a long-term deal," Astros GM Dana Brown said in a statement. "We felt that he is the perfect candidate for this type of deal as a core piece of our rotation. This is in line with our vision to try to lock players up to sustain our success both now and in the future."
Javier, 26 in March, threw 148 1/3 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 2022. He started two combined no-hitters as well, first at Yankee Stadium on June 25 and then at Citizens Bank Park in Game 4 of the World Series. Javier allowed eight hits in his final seven appearances and 35 2/3 innings last season, postseason included. His .170 batting average allowed led MLB in 2022.
Last month the Astros and Javier were unable to agree to a 2023 contract prior to the arbitration salary filing deadline. Javier filed for $3.5 million while the Astros countered at $3 million. They would have gone to an arbitration hearing in the coming weeks had they not agreed to the extension. Here is the salary breakdown of Javier's new contract (per ESPN):
- 2023: $3 million salary plus $2 million signing bonus
- 2024: $7 million
- 2025: $10 million
- 2026: $21 million
- 2027: $21 million
Javier will hit the open market at age 30 following the 2027 season, so he'll still have a chance at a nice free agent payday on the other end of this extension. Carlos Rodón signed a six-year contract worth $162 million at age 30 this offseason, for example.
The Astros originally gave Javier a $10,000 signing bonus as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in March 2015. He was an unheralded prospect at the time, but Houston was able to coach him up into the impact pitcher he is today. Javier has one of the best fastballs in baseball, not just in terms of velocity, but also spin and angle through the zone. It is elite.
Houston hired Brown away from the Atlanta Braves and named him their general manager last month. The Braves have had great success signing their young players to team-friendly long-term deals, and it appears Brown intends to do the same with the Astros. Lefty Framber Valdez and outfielder Kyle Tucker are both three years away from free agency and are logical extension candidates.
The Astros now have Javier, Yordan Alvarez, and Lance McCullers Jr. under contract through at least 2026, plus shortstop Jeremy Peña under team control through 2027. Even if they're unable to sign Tucker and Valdez to extensions, both are in Houston through 2025, and that's a dynamite core that should keep the reigning champions in contention for the foreseeable future.