Astros and RHP Mike Fiers reach a deal to avoid arbitration
By Eric Huysman
The Astros and Mike Fiers meet in the middle to avoid arbitration.
The day after Jeff Bagwell is elected to the 2017 Hall of Fame class, the Astros make more news. No, they didn’t trade for Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, or Sonny Gray. Those players seem less likely to be acquired as time passes, maybe by the trade deadline.
The Astros and Mike Fiers have agreed on a deal to avoid arbitration hearings in February. With Fanfest this Saturday, the Hall of Fame news, and the Astros caravan running, the front office is still working. Fiers had filed for $3.9 million dollars, but the Astros filed at $3 million. The two sides reached a deal for $3.45 million for 2017 via Jake Kaplan. MLB Trade Rumors predicted $4.3 million for Fiers.
This is a good deal for both side, splitting the difference in the middle. Had they gone in front of an arbitrator, there would have been no middle ground. The Astros saved $450,000 had they lost, and Fiers got $450,000 more if the arbitrator favored Houston. It’s a win-win deal.
On Talking Stros, we predicted that Fiers would be the least likely to avoid arbitration. We are not always right, but we didn’t see much of a role for Fiers in 2017. Many national writers feel like Fiers will be in the starting rotation on opening day. We felt that Fiers will serve more of a Scott Feldman role in 2017.
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Rotation or bullpen.
If Fiers is in the rotation, depending on health, Joseph Musgrove or new signee Charlie Morton will be in the bullpen. Don’t think the Astros spent the money on Morton to put him in the bullpen. Fiers is not known for his velocity, but rather his deception on the mound. With his arm slot, the pitches appear faster than they are.
Fiers did have a no-hitter in 2015 that helped turn around the season versus the Dodgers. Maybe they will start Fiers in the rotation to save some innings for Musgrove down the stretch. His velocity did not change much in 2016, but his strikeouts per nine innings pitched decreased from 8.98 to 7.15.
Next: Astros are looking at some starting pitcher from somewhere
Despite his struggles at times in 2016, Fiers still went 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA. This was his highest ERA since 2013 ERA of 7.25. However, he only pitched 22 1/3 innings that year, so it was a small sample size. With the makeup of the current rotation, Fiers could make his presence known at some point. The team could use another Feldman-like performance out of the bullpen to win. Fiers will get a good share of starts this season, though.
***Stats from Fangraphs***