The Astros were able to avoid arbitration with one of their key relievers.
One strength for the Astros last year was their productive bullpen. Between the likes of Luke Gregerson, Ken Giles, and Will Harris, manager A.J. Hinch has quality options at any point late in the game.
While there was little doubt that the trio would return for 2017, the issue of arbitration for Harris was a possibility. If a team and player aren’t careful, the arbitration process can become a bit messy. Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Harris originally wanted $2.3 million. The Astros countered at $1.95 million. Anytime money is involved it can get ugly rather quickly.
The good news is that potential nightmare will not be a concern as the Astros and Harris avoid the arbitration process with a reported two-year deal.
Harris during his two years in Houston has been simply effective.
Last year he posted an impressive 2.25 ERA/2.35 FIP in 64 innings pitched. Oh, he was also named to the All-Star Game last summer. And one key to Harris’ success last season was his ability to limit home runs. His 0.42 HR/9 and 7.1% HR/FB were comparable to his best year in Arizona back in 2013.
As far as the new deal is concerned, this contract is good value for the Astros. Based on his 2016 WAR converted to dollars, Harris would’ve been worth $14.6 million on the open market. The year before was $3.6 million. And the team option for 2019 essentially means that the Astros bought out all three of Harris’ arbitration years. Once again, this is a good deal from the Astros perspective. You can also understand why Harris decided to ink this new contract as he finally receives some stability where he will call his professional home through 2019.
This latest development leaves Collin McHugh and Marwin Gonzalez as the only Astros that may go to arbitration. Hearings have already been set. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that the team can lock up a deal with them as they did with Harris. No matter what happens at least the Stros took care of one of their three potential arbitration cases. That is better than zero, right?
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**