It seems so simple to bring back your best starting pitcher from 2016, but the Astros head to arbitration with Collin McHugh.
As shocking as this is, are we surprised at the fact that McHugh and the Astros are yet to reach an agreement on compensation for 2017? Let’s take a look at some pivotal points each side has to make to reach a deal.
McHugh and His Camp Know His Value
A19-win season in 2015 along with a 13-win season in 2016 that was capped off by a resurgence in the latter part of the season, proves his value has increased. He is an important component of the rotation and is capable of rising to the occasion when other pitchers fall to injury.
McHugh also showed great poise when facing the Royals in the 2015 ALDS. He pitched to his full potential and did everything in his power to give the Stros a chance to win. He did a similar act at the end of the 2016 season, carrying the rotation as the team worked to reach the playoffs.
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McHugh’s agent understands his value. Other pitchers being paid for under-performance and wants his client to be compensated appropriately. He made $529,000 in 2016, and if you compare that to other starting pitchers on the staff, McHugh is worthy of a pay raise.
Astros are Thinking Bigger than Field Value
Unlike Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh is nowhere near as marketable as him. “Fear the Beard” has an entire section at his games. Keuchel is recognized as one of the faces of the franchise. He is developed through the Astros farm system. McHugh is on the outside looking in and was acquired from another organization.
Unlike Lance McCullers, McHugh doesn’t have a “wow” factor on the mound. He will not flash his pitches around, nor will he blow you away with his approach to the game. McHugh is a calm, collected individual who does not want the spotlight.
The Astros organization may be looking to trade McHugh. Although counter-productive, as they have done very little to add pitching for 2017. Trade is a viable option. McHugh’s value is rising, so his marketability to other teams is appealing. He is a quality pitcher who is heading into his prime.
What Can We Expect?
Lastly, if the Astros are not willing to pay him for his value, we may not see him in an Astros uniform this season. Can we fault the Astros for this? I say yes and no. You can say yes because the lack of initiative to bolster the rotation has led you to the difficulty to sign back one of your better pitchers. You can say no because they are looking to help the organization as a whole. McHugh has upside and possesses trade value. He may be a part of a deal which the Astros wish to make before the deadline for arbitration.
All in all, I would work to agree on terms of compensation for 2017. McHugh deserves an opportunity to earn a championship with this team. He has grit, he has experience, and he is a calming force in the rotation.
**Statistics and Salary information courtesy of Baseball Reference & Spotrac**