HOUSTON (AP) — Ten months from free agency, José Altuve knew what he wanted.
“Houston is my home,” he said.
He achieved his goal to remain with the Astros, agreeing to a contract that will pay $125 million from 2025-29, when he will be 39.
“I have obviously two homes," he said Wednesday at a news conference, a day after the deal was announced. "I grew up in Venezuela, my country. Every time I go there, I tell my wife ‘Let’s go home.’ And then when it’s time to come back, I tell her ‘Let’s come back home.’”
An eight-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and the 2017 AL MVP, Altuve had started to discuss free agency last year with wife Nina.
“I come back every day, after a night game, and I see my daughters sleeping," Altuve said. "I can wake up the next day and take them to school, so that was where the conversation where everything started, and we decided to stay here in Houston. We will never move from here.”
Houston Mayor John Whitmire declared Wednesday Jose Altuve Day, with the date, 2/7, matching Altuve’s jersey number. More than a dozen of Altuve’s teammates and coaches attended the news conference along with Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio.
“Jose Altuve is the heartbeat of this organization,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said. “He’s a franchise player. He’s on pace to be in the Hall of Fame. He’s a fan favorite, and without a doubt, he’s the spark to our Clubhouse, to our dugout, and he’s an Astro for life.”
Altuve's deal raises his career earnings above $300 million, the most among second basemen. It was negotiated by Scott Boras, who also represents Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. Boras said he spoke with Brown on Wednesday about Bregman, who can become a free agent after the World Series.
“Alex has made it clear that he’s open to listening to whatever the Astros have to say,” Boras said.
Just 5-foot-6. Altuve is among the shortest big leaguers. He went to an Astros tryout and was sent home without a contract but returned the next day at the urging of his father. He signed for $15,000 as a 16-year old in 2007.
Altuve debut in 2011 in the first of three straight 100-plus-loss seasons and helped set a winning culture for a team that went on to World Series titles in 2017 and '22. The Astros have reached the AL Championship Series in seven straight seasons.
“ José does a lot of things that not a lot of people get to see,” Astros manager Joe Espada said, “I get to witness his ability to connect with his teammates, to lead a clubhouse, to when we need somebody to step up and speak up and he speaks, and how he commands the room.”
Altuve joked that he didn't remember the lean years on Wednesday but said they made him a better player.
“Obviously, nobody likes to lose, so I think as an organization we learned a lot from those games, and we did the transition," he said. "Now we are a winning team.”
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