Houston Astros tender contracts to 7 players as expected

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Sep 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) celebrates his double in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) celebrates his double in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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The next step in the offseason will start making the Houston Astros team payroll more that an estimation.

During the Houston Astros offseason that has seen them be very aggressive, it came to no surprise that signed Nori Aoki before the deadline last night. The two sides agreed to a deal before the agreement on the CBA, a one-year deal for $5.5 million dollars. When the Astros started pursuing Carlos Beltran after signing Josh Reddick, some wondered where Aoki fit? The Astros wanted to avoid arbitration with the outfielder they claimed via waivers.

The Astros wanted to avoid arbitration with the outfielder they claimed via waivers. With the early move two days before the deadline, maybe the front office wanted to send a message. Aoki is here to stay and will not be non-tendered. In fact, unlike last season, no one was non-tendered. Last year it was Chris Carter who was non-tendered, who was also non-tendered last season.

With a potentially larger team payroll in 2017, there was no need to trim payroll. The current payroll of the players signed is approximately $82 million. This will rise by about $30.3 million when those seven players are signed, according to Roster Resources. Let’s take a look at the players who were tendered a contract last night.

Returning arbitration eligible players.

Dallas Keuchel (LHP) – Despite the off season in 2016, Keuchel should get a $2.25 raise. MLB Trade Rumors estimates he will make $9.5 million in 2017, his second year or arbitration.

Marwin Gonzalez (Utility) – Teams that go deep in the playoffs have players like Gonzalez. He is entering his third year of arbitration and is due to make $3.6 million, up from $2 million in 2016. His value is what he can do off the bench and that he can start all around the diamond.

First-time arbitration eligible players

George Springer (OF) – This is the biggest name on this list, with also means the countdown for free agency for Springer. Last year, Springer worked for peanuts, if they are the really expensive ones. He made $522.4 K last season but now will make an estimated $4.74 million. He will also likely move to center field.

Collin McHugh (RHP) – McHugh became the team ace at the end of the season last year, for the 2016 season that is. He better fits in as the third or fourth pitcher in a good rotation. In his first year of arbitration eligibility, McHugh will make $4.6 million.

Mike Fiers (RHP) – Fiers role in the Houston Astros rotation is a little fuzzy at the moment. We don’t know if Fiers starts the year in the rotation or in the bullpen serving a Scott Feldman type role. Fiers also has to deal with Joseph Musgrove, Chris Devenski, and Michael Feliz trying to take his job. He is projected to make $4.3 million in 2017.

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Will Harris (RP) – The old man of this group at 32-years-old, was a critical piece of the bullpen picture in 2016. He served as the closer for a while there but seemed to thrive as the setup guy. How much is he worth in his first year of arbitration eligibility? MLBTR predicts he will get $2.5 million.

Jake Marisnick (OF) – The ladies love him, so do the Houston Astros. While his bat is suspect, he is one of the best defensive players in the game. He will most likely split playing time with Aoki in left field. His role could be affected if they sign Beltran or Edwin Encarnacion. He is set to make $1.1 million in 2017.

This group and the future payroll.

Some names in this group will continue to drive up the Astros payroll as the years go on. Keuchel, behind a Cy Young winning 2015, got some money in his first season of arbitration last year. Springer will also improve and increase his value as well. This group is under team control for at least two more years.

Next: Another look at who would be the better fit, EE or Beltran?

Wait till Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers‘ names gets added to this group. This section of the team payroll will continue to rise which is why it will show the dedication of the ownership group to look at the possibility of adding Encarnacion. This payroll will continue to rise, and we could see players leave like the what happened with the Royals in the past. Or, could we approach the luxury-tax threshold?

***Arbitration salaries and years from Houston Astros Roster Resource page***

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