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Astros give Altuve 4-year extension

<p>The Houston Astros have locked up a key piece in their rebuilding project, signing second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension.</p>

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - The Houston Astros have locked up a key piece in their rebuilding project, signing second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension.

The extension begins next year and includes club options for 2018 and 2019.

"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," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement Saturday. "He provides leadership both on and off the field and has become a big part of the Houston sports community."

Altuve, 23, is batting .280 with three homers and 28 RBI through 86 games this season. The 5-foot-5 Venezuelan was an All-Star and named the team MVP in 2012 after hitting .290 with seven homers, 33 stolen bases, 34 doubles and 37 RBI over 147 games.

"This contract is consistent with our strategy of developing and retaining the best young talent in baseball," said Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane in a statement. "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."

Altuve made his major league debut with the Astros in 2011, batting at a .276 clip in 57 games.

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