Houston Astros sign 2B Jose Altuve through 2017

Houston Astros sign 2B Jose Altuve through 2017
July 13, 2013, 4:47 pm
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Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) slides safely into home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz waits for a throw in the seventh inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(APWF)

HOUSTON (AP) The low-budget Astros have made an investment in their future, signing second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract through 2017.

Altuve's deal with Houston announced Saturday covers his arbitration-eligible years and includes club options for 2018 and 2019. If the options aren't exercised, he would be eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.

The 23-year-old Altuve was an All-Star in 2012. He is hitting .280 with 15 doubles, three homers and 28 RBIs this season.

``This contract is consistent with our strategy of developing and retaining the best young talent in baseball,'' team owner Jim Crane said. ``All along, I've maintained that we will make the necessary investments to create a winning team long-term, and this is an important step in that direction.''

The 5-foot-5 Altuve has become a fan favorite and one of the few bright spots on a team which has slogged through consecutive 100-loss seasons and looks to be headed for a third one this season.

He made his major league debut in July 2011 and blossomed last season when he hit .290 with 34 doubles, seven home runs and 33 stolen bases.

``Jose has quickly become the face of the franchise in less than two years, and we are excited to keep him here for many years to come,'' general manager Jeff Luhnow said. ``He provides leadership both on and off the field and has become a big part of the Houston sports community.''

Altuve was Houston's minor league player of the year in 2011 when he led the minors with a .389 average before being called up to the Astros. He quickly developed into a solid player for this young team and has appeared in 287 games since being called up.

Altuve is the youngest everyday second baseman in the majors and his continued growth is a positive sign for a team hoping to rebuild from within.

``I'm really happy to be a part of the Houston Astros organization,'' Altuve said. ``I just want to keep playing hard and help this team win games. I love my teammates and the people of Houston and I'm going to do everything I can to improve and win baseball games.''