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Astros and Marwin Gonzalez avoid arbitration, Collin McHugh doesn’t

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Sep 25, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Marwin Gonzalez (9) congratulates catcher Evan Gattis (11) after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Marwin Gonzalez (9) congratulates catcher Evan Gattis (11) after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros may be going to an arbitration hearing with Collin McHugh on Friday, but Marwin Gonzalez avoids that outcome today.

Along with building a winning team, the Houston Astros payroll will continue to rise as the seasons’ pass. While it’s good to have a young team, arbitration salaries will continue to be an issue over the next five years. George Springer was the first of the semi-recent first round picks to reach arbitration. Before you know it, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman will also become eligible.

The Astros know that the salary will quickly escalate, so they are looking to make moves that work now and in the future. You have seen the Astros in the past try to buy out the arbitration years with Springer like they did Jose Altuve. Besides Jon Singleton, no one has accepted an early multi-year option to buy out the arbitration years.

Trying to lock up young players.

The Astros have tried, they were rumored to have offered it to Matt Dominguez and Robbie Grossman. Imagine if that would have happened. Neither the player or team really wants to go to arbitration hearings, but they get the importance of it. Last year, the Astros took starting catcher, Jason Castro, to arbitration over $250,000. While that seems like a lot to most of you reading this, in the baseball world, it’s nothing.

Castro lost the case, getting paid $5 million instead of what he filled for, which was $5.25 million. While Castros lost the case, the Astros lost him the following year via free agency to the Twins. Why all the fuss with a little bit of money on the line? We may never know, but we know they try to save every penny possible. The Astros did try something last year that they seem to be employing this year.

The option years’ included?

Evan Gattis and Castro were both headed to arbitration last offseason, but the Astros signed Gattis for 2016 with an option of $5.2 million for 2017. The Astros essentially bought off one year of arbitration. This year, we have seen this used as well with Will Harris and now Marwin Gonzalez. The bought out two or Harris’s arbitration years plus an option for a third year. Via Jake Kaplan, Harris has a guaranteed $5 million over the next two years, with an option between $5.5 and $8.5 million in 2019.

Margo and Astros agree.

Nothing wrong with that deal, it locks up one of your top relievers for the next few years. Today, Jon Heyman reports that Gonzalez and the Astros avoid arbitration. He will make $3.725 million in 2017 and has a team option of $5.125 million for 2018, reports Kaplan. Last year, Gonzalez became more than a super utility guy as he made 74 starts at first base.

By including the options, the Astros safeguard themselves in case that player has a great year. Should the Astros decline the 2018 option, he will be once again arbitration eligible according to Kaplan. It is to be seen if Gonzalez will still be in the plans in 2019.

What about McHugh?

That means all the arbitration eligible players are taken care of except for the third pitcher in the rotation. Collin McHugh was the best pitcher standing at the end of the season with Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel on the DL. He finished last year with a 13-10 record with a 4.34 ERA with 177 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings.

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As a waiver claim from the Rockies, McHugh has been a great story in his time with Houston. With the questions surrounding the rotation, you would think that the Astros would do what they can to make him happy. Instead, he is scheduled to sit in front of a three-person panel on Friday to decide his salary.

A representative from Houston will be there trying to convince the panel to accept their $3.35 million proposal. McHugh will be there to defend why he thinks he should get paid $3.85 million. Jon Heyman reports that experts predict that McHugh will win this case. The two sides can agree to a deal before that, but what is $500,000 in the grand scheme of things.

Next: Astros manager A.J. Hinch clarifies plan for left field in 2017

The Stros should just try to reach out to McHugh and try to find a compromise. After losing his case last year, Castro didn’t seem to be too thrilled with the team. Why burn bridges for such a small amount? Just show him some money, because we could be winning the World Series in 2017!

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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