Kyle Tucker has slowly emerged as perhaps one of the most underrated players in baseball today. With his batting stance drawing comparison to the late Hall of Famer Ted Williams, it’s no surprise that “King Tuck” has become a force for an Astros lineup that is already one of the best in baseball.
Kyle Tucker was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft out of H.B Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. Tucker eventually made his major league debut in 2018 and only played in 28 games. It wouldn’t be until the COVID-riddled 2020 season in which Tucker would get to be an everyday starter, replacing former Astro Jake Marisnick.
In just six years in the big leagues, Kyle Tucker has hit .268 with 414 hits, 79 home runs, an on-base percentage of .337, and a .496 slugging percentage. Tucker has also won a Gold Glove, became an All-Star, and even caught the final out of the 2022 World Series.
So why hasn’t Houston extended Tucker?
The Astros have given some of their star players, such as Yordan Alvarez and Cristian Javier, contract extensions, and with new GM Dana Brown at the helm, more players could be getting one, including King Tuck. However, there is one issue.
Kyle Tucker became eligible for arbitration for the first time last season, to which he stated his case for a 2023 salary of $7.5 million after receiving $764,200 in 2022. Tucker lost his arbitration hearing earlier this year and will be paid just $5 million for 2023.
Tucker, as expected, wasn’t thrilled about losing his case. ” The outcome wasn’t what we were hoping. I don’t think it was the right one, but it is what it is at this point,” said Tucker during an interview during Spring Training.
GM Dana Brown, who became known for giving contract extensions during his time with the Atlanta Braves, has stated that Tucker and ace Framber Valdez are on his radar for a possible extension, as well as Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Tucker, who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2026, says that his relationship with the Astros franchise isn’t damaged despite losing his arbitration case.
The contract negotiations between Tucker and the Astros are “on pause” as of a month ago, according to Astros’ owner Jim Crane. Tucker, MLB’s only 30-homer, 25-steal player last season, will be looking for an extension in the $200 million range.
However, no player since Crane bought the team in 2011 has signed a contract bigger than Altuve’s $151 million extension back in 2018, not even Alvarez, who inked a six-year, $115 million extension last June.
Crane has shown that since the Astros first championship run back in 2017, that he isn’t afraid to let big names walk. Star outfielder George Springer left Houston following the 2020 season and signed a six-year $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Shortstop Carlos Correa left following 2021 to sign an opt-out heavy $200 million deal with the Minnesota Twins.
“Our goal here is pretty simple: we try to assemble 26 guys. You can’t do it with one big contract”, Crane said during a pre-game interview.
Time is on the Astros’ side, but Tucker isn’t getting any younger. The negotiations will likely resume during the off-season, but if Houston wants to keep their championship window open, they must extend Tucker before it’s too late.
Main Image Credit