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The Houston Astros have locked up one of their core players to a long-term contract extension. Slugger Yordan Alvarez, the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year, has agreed to a six-year deal worth $115 million, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan. The contract begins next season. The Astros have not yet confirmed the signing.

Alvarez, 24, was under team control through 2025. The new contract buys out his three arbitration years and three free agent years. The six-year extension is the fourth largest contract given to a player who was not yet eligible for arbitration. Here's the list:

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres: 14 years and $340 million
  2. Wander Franco, Rays11 years and $182 million
  3. Mike Trout, Angels: 6 years and $144.5 million
  4. Yordan Alvarez, Astros: 6 years and $115 million
  5. Alex Bregman, Astros: 6 years and $100 million

In-season extensions of his magnitude are very rare. These usually get done in the offseason or during spring training. The last player to sign a nine-figure contract extension during the season was Dustin Pedroia, who inked an eight-year deal worth $110 million with the Boston Red Sox in August 2013.

Alvarez, the 2021 ALCS MVP, is hitting .272/.376/.574 with 14 home runs this season and he owns a .287/.379/.576 batting line in parts of four seasons with the Astros. He is averaging 44 homers per 162 games in his career and is equally effective against righties and lefties. Alvarez is, quite simply, one of the most devastating hitters in the game today. 

The bat is excellent and it has to be because Alvarez is a below average defender in the outfield who fits best at DH. Also, he missed just about the entire 2020 season with surgery on both knees, which is never a good sign with a 6-foot-5 and 225-pound player. That said, Alvarez's knees have given his no trouble since, and his bat is as good as any in the game.

The Astros acquired Alvarez from the Los Angeles Dodgers for righty Josh Fields in Aug. 2016, before Alvarez even played his first professional game in the minors. It has since become one of the most lopsided trades in recent baseball history. 

Alvarez and the Astros take a 33-18 record and a plus-44 run differential into Friday night's series opener against the Kansas City Royals. They lead the AL West by 6 1/2 games and are looking for their fifth division title in the last six years.