Updated: Nov 5
This will be my first Astros Payroll Projection BEFORE we get fully into the offseason. This is CRITICAL to understanding and level setting what CAN happen in this offseason. To refer to all of the offseason content remember to reference the Offseason Outline here.
Before we look forward let's remember the Astros made two trades in 2023 that do have a material impact on the Astros in 2024 and 2025. Here are the financial details of those deals.
Financial details of 2023 trades
The Verlander deal means that the Astros have a net $14.31 million CBT payroll number for him in 2024 and a net $23.06 million CBT payroll number for him in 2025.
The Graveman deal means the Astros will have a $8 million CBT number for him in 2024.
I wrote what I thought would happen with the 2023 Astros that became Free Agents after the season here. Check out the details there.
To summarize this is what I said
Neris probably back- 12/5 Note- Neris did decline his option. This gives the Astros ~$7M (Astros pay $1M buyout) more to work with but they now probably need TWO RP.
Stanek not likely
In the Arbitration article I summarized the salary arbitration process and defined who I thought would be tendered salary arbitration. Please check out the details there. Here are the results.
These numbers are what I have used for my 2024 payroll projection.
Payroll Situation in 2024 and 2025
This is moment I feel like the Grinch that Stole Christmas. I have WARNED about a looming payroll Armageddon in 2025 after the 2024 season. That is due to Bregman and Altuve becoming Free Agents ONE YEAR FROM NOW. This is the critical time for the Astros. In addition, Tucker will be entering his last season before becoming a free agent after the 2025 season. If they want to keep him, they need to extend him BEFORE he hits free agency. I have warned that I see NO scenario after the Montero and Abreu signings of last offseason which extend into 2025 that all three of Altuve, Bregman, and Tucker can all return. I am not even considering a Valdez or a Urquidy deal either. Both, like Tucker, are Free Agents after 2025.
This was all true BEFORE the Verlander trade which I showed above adds a net $23M to the 2025 CBT payroll.
Every day people are asking what I think the Astros will do in Free Agency this offseason. I hear Dana Brown make promises that Altuve, Bregman, and hopefully Tucker can be here long term.
What I am about to show you is NOT my opinion. It is MATH. Both Roster Resource and Spotrac will tell you the same thing if you understand how to interpret what they are telling you. We went through the returning Astros FA and Arbitration players first to ground you on those topics.
Now let's look at the Astros players under contracts.
With the Verlander money that the Mets will pay and including a Neris option, the Astros owe THESE eleven players $169M (CBT AAV) in 2024.
Let's assume that
- Altuve accepts an extension which lowers his salary $1M from his 2024 salary in 2025 and beyond - $28M. This is a NET INCREASE on his $23.4M CBT number.
- Bregman accepts an extension which lowers his salary $1.5M from his 2024 salary in 2025 and beyond- $29M. This is a NET INCREASE on his $20M CBT number.
With these and Verlander money that the Mets will pay and letting Neris and Graveman go as Free Agents, the Astros owe the remaining nine players $175M (CBT AAV) in 2025.
Total of Arbitration Players
The total estimated Arbitration Salaries in 2024 are $38.5M and in 2025 are $50.5M. If we assume a Tucker contract deal is $28M AAV and starts with the 2025 season this Arb group would make $78.5M in 2025.
One important note- IF the Astros negotiate a deal for Tucker, it will NOT happen until his 2024 Arbitration salary is settled. The team will first negotiate a 2024 deal and THEN an extension to that deal for 2025 and beyond. This is so that his long term AAV is NOT on the 2024 calculation.
Unfortunately, there is still more. There is:
- About $11M allocated for pre-arb players
- Another $2.5M allocated for players on the 40-man roster playing in the minor leagues
- Another $17M allocated for player benefits
- About $1.7M for Payment into $50M pre-arbitration bonus pool
Altogether, RIGHT NOW the Astros project to have a $240M CBT payroll in 2024 assuming the Neris option is executed. Now $233M after the Neris option has been declined.
The 2024 CBT is $237M. Has ANYONE told you that the Astros are one decision from going over the CBT? Very few will. Most are filling your heads with $20M dollar players and making it seem like the Astros are going to break the bank.
Folks, the bank (the Astros staying below the CBT) IS ALREADY BROKEN. However, the fine for going over the 2024 CBT is not large- $600,000 right now. The real issue is and has always been 2025. IF the Astros want to keep Altuve, Bregman, and Tucker and it even approximates what I showed already, the 2025 CBT number would be $287M. They would get CBT1 tax, CBT2 tax, AND cBT3 tax, AND their first pick in draft would be pushed back 10 picks. The Astros would get a $19M tax bill and have an effective CBT payroll of $306M. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Has anyone else told you what I just did? Why? Because they are going to flood you with content based on a false reality that the Astros have money to spend. They are going to say Crane is rich. It will all be done for clicks. What I just told you is the truth. Book it.
However, the Astros cannot just go to the 2024 season with the team as assembled right now. They have gaps that we will discuss.
What will they do?
I think the 2024 Goal will to be to stay below the CBT2 with about $4-5M to spend at the 2024 trade deadline. This means they spend no more than $12-13M to complete every acquisition they make. THIS is the number you should keep in mind now.
11/5 Note- Neris did decline his option. This gives the Astros ~$7M (Astros pay $1M buyout) more to work with so I will target a total budget of $18-20M but they now probably need TWO RP.
This would push the 2024 CBT to $253M - $4M below the CBT2. The tax would be $3M.
ONE of the three I have discussed will not be signed. Most Likely Tucker will be traded after the 2024 season.
Urquidy AND Valdez are traded after the 2024 season. (Urquidy might be traded sooner.)
Executing either trade option STILL means the Astros are in a $272-276 CBT level and subject to CBT2 penalty adders.
If Jim Crane had a GM when the Abreu and Montero deals were done, Crane might be firing him for putting him in this position. He can't fire himself. He just has to pay.
My advice for you is to stay focused on two things.
- Will the Astros trade one of these two SP- Urquidy (est. $3.5 in 2024) or Valdez (est. $12.1 in 2024)?
- Options that TOTAL in the $12-13M (Now $18-20M) AAV range. Anyone telling you this team is going bigger than that is lying to you or leaving out the trade of a higher salary player that enables that.
We have reached the precipice of the Payroll Armageddon I warned you about. Now EVERY roster moves that happens will be evaluated with the payroll in mind too. The truth is they have for years knowing this day is coming.
Stay tuned. This affects EVERYTHING that happens. That is why we are starting HERE.
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Below is the current Astros payroll detail for 2024 to 2025.
MLB CBT info
Let me know if you have questions.