On Wednesday night, the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to become world champions for the first time.
It might not be for the last time for this group, however. That's because the Astros are well positioned to make a couple more runs at another World Series ring.
The Astros entered the season with a franchise-high $124 million payroll. That figure, obviously enough, does not include Justin Verlander's since-absorbed salary. It's unclear how much higher the Astros will be willing to climb. You would think a fair deal higher would be possible, though, given Houston's market size and their impressive season.
Nonetheless, here's a look at the contractual status of some of the Astros' best players:
Strong and affordable up the middle
One of baseball's oldest roster-building strategies is to solidify the middle positions -- catcher, shortstop and second base, and center field. The Astros have done just that, with arguably the best double-play combination in the sport and an all-star quality center fielder. Each will remain affordable for the next few seasons.
Second baseman and probable American League MVP Jose Altuve will make $12.5 million over the next two seasons as a result of the team-friendly extension he signed in 2013. Outfielder George Springer will experience his second go-around in arbitration this winter, while shortstop Carlos Correa won't be eligible for arbitration until after next season passes.
The one up-the-middle starter on the Astros set to make serious buck in 2018 is catcher Brian McCann. He's owed $17 million, of which $5.5 million will be paid by the Yankees.
Aces locked up
Of course, the Astros also have the good fortune of employing two legit aces, in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel -- both under team control through at least 2018
Verlander is scheduled to be the most expensive player on the 2018 and 2019 Astros. He'll make a combined $56 million over the next two seasons -- $40 million will be paid by the Astros.
Comparatively, Keuchel will make a pittance. Entering his final arbitration season, he should get a healthy raise on his $9 million salary from this season. It's unclear whether the Astros will attempt to sign Keuchel to a long-term deal. If not, he'll be a free agent after next season.
Hodgepodge of vets and kids
The rest of the Astros' payroll is a collection of veterans and youngsters who are making various amounts of money. Let's just touch on some of the notables:
Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez will make just over $5 million in 2018. He'll then qualify for free agency after the season.
Charlie Morton, who has authored some brilliant postseason appearances, is set to make $7 million in his deal's second (and final) year.
Closer Ken Giles will qualify for arbitration this winter. As will swingman Brad Peacock.
Lance McCullers Jr. is set to qualify for arbitration, too -- as a Super Two.
Setupman Chris Devenski is another season away from arbitration.
Brilliant young third baseman Alex Bregman is a few years away from arbitration.
The only players the Astros stand to lose to free agency this winter are Carlos Beltran, Francisco Liriano, Cameron Maybin, Tyler Clippard, and Luke Gregerson. See why this team has a chance to be good for a while longer?