The defending World Series champion Houston Astros want to lock up starters Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier as soon as possible, according to MLB insider John Morozzi.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a long-term extension between Valdes and Javier before the season opener,” Morosi wrote.
Valdez and Javier are the remaining cornerstones of the Astros starting lineup following the departure of Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to the New York Mets. According to Morosi, both strikers can extend their contracts until the start of the 2023 season.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if one of Valdez and Javier gets a long-term extension before the season opens,” Morosi said on MLB Network’s “Hot Furnace” Tuesday.
Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier both pitched 3.7 WAR in 2022.
In his fifth season with the Houston Astros, Framber Valdez led the major leagues with 201 1/3 innings, three complete games and 827 strikeouts. He recorded one complete game shutout.
On the season, Valdez started 31 games, posting a 17-6 record with a 2.82 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 194 strikeouts. After making his first All-Star appearance last summer, Valdez inherits the ace role of the staff while Verlander leaves via free agency.
In his third major league season, Cristian Javier made the transition from the bullpen to the starting lineup. He started a career-high 25 of his 30 appearances.
Xavier finished third in the 2020 Rookie of the Year voting with 54 strikeouts in as many innings. Like Valdez, Javier is a hurler, recording 194 strikeouts in 2022, compiling an 11-9 record with a 2.54 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.
The Houston Astros boast a powerful starting rotation
Even with the loss of Verlander, the Houston Astros appear to have a formidable pitching staff heading into 2023. Along with Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier, Houston also boasts Jose Urquidii (13-8, 3.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 134 strikeouts in 13,222 innings). and Luis Garcia (15-8, 3.72, 1.13, 157 Ks last season) to fill out the top four starting spots.
One wild card for Houston is Lance McCullers Jr., who has been a big hit for the Astros since 2015. However, McCullers has battled injury several times in his career and played in just eight games last season because of a sprain. tendon strain in his right throwing arm.