The Astros haven’t shied away from letting talented, homegrown players walk in free agency.
Should Kyle Tucker be an exception to that trend?
The 26-year-old has blossomed into a star. He hit .284 in 2023, belting 29 homers while driving in an American League-leading 112 runs. He can play a solid right field to boot, winning his first Gold Glove in 2022 and was a finalist again this season.
Tucker is entering his second year of arbitration, and will be a free agent following the 2025 season. In other words, the runway to get Tucker extended before he hits the open market is getting increasingly shorter. At a time when the Astros are still a top contenders in the league yet in something of a transition phase, Tucker’s long-term future in Houston is among the big decisions facing Dana Brown and Co.
Sports Radio 610’s Clint Stoerner said Thursday that extending Tucker has to be a priority.
“If you’ve got Kyle Tucker and you’ve got Yordan Alvarez in the middle of this lineup, you can do work. Period. That’s where I’m at," Stoerner said. "(Jose) Altuve is getting a little bit older, obviously we have no idea what they’re going to do with Alex Bregman. (Jeremy) Peña, we’re a year removed from the ALCS and World Series MVP, the further we get removed from that the less meaningful it’s going to be.
“You don’t have an everyday center fielder, you don’t have an everyday left fielder. At the end of the day, you’re talking about a pillar that you can build around. Yordan Alvarez is No. 1, but I firmly believe Kyle Tucker is No. 2.”
George Springer is a Blue Jay and Carlos Correa is a Twin, so that alone underscores the reality that Tucker could continue his career elsewhere. Further, his dreadful postseason could elicit some recency bias that he’s not worth a massive investment.
But the Astros’ core is getting older and with that there are holes beginning to pop up around the roster. Houston’s No. 1 and 2 prospects are outfielders, but neither has advanced past Double-A. If the 2024 season started today, they’d likely have Chas McCormick in center, Tucker in right and Alvarez in left, the latter of whom is best served as a designated hitter.
“You have to (extend Tucker),” Stoerner said. “You don’t have the luxury right now – unless there’s just several guys down in the system that we don’t know about – you don’t have the luxury right now of ‘Oh well we’ve got guys that will fill the voids.' At some point, you’ve got to change course and keep some of these guys in-house. Tucker is one of them.
“Who is going to be your right fielder? And guess what, if you don’t reup Bregman you have to find a third baseman. (Jose) Abreu, at any point in time he could definitely decide he wants to retire, you’ve got to do something at first base. You already feel like you need to do something in center field. Your left fielder in Michael Brantley is gone, he’s done. There’s just too many voids to fill for you to create another one by letting a homegrown guy bounce. I think Kyle Tucker has got to be one of the two pillars that you build this lineup around for the foreseeable future. I’m all about paying him.”