On the day that pitchers and catchers report, the Astros lose an arbitration case.
While the Astros were able to negotiate new deals with two of their three players scheduled for arbitration, the team wasn’t so fortunate with the third. That third player is right hander Collin McHugh.
McHugh, entering his age-30 season this summer, has been one of the Astros top pitchers the last few years. The right hander has put together three consecutive respectable seasons since the Astros acquired his services before the 2014 season.
Innings pitched: 543.0
The arbitration ruling today wasn’t an earth-shattering one.
In fact, the difference in terms of dollars between the two sides wasn’t a dramatic one when compared to other cases.
Regardless of McHugh’s strengths and flaws as a pitcher, the final result is still a positive for the Astros. A mid-rotation pitcher that can throw anywhere from 175 to 200 innings for $3.85 million is a valuable one. In fact, you can convert his 2016 WAR into dollars over at Fangraphs and you get $24.4 million. Of course you can’t say that McHugh will earn that large figure on the open market. The WAR-to-Dollar tool isn’t used for future earnings predictions. It is used to demonstrate how much you would have to spend replace that level of production. And last year McHugh only made $529,000.
The only residual effect this proceeding may have is the relationship between McHugh and the Astros. Anytime there are large sums of money involved in arbitration cases then the possibility of hurt feelings exist. Remember Mike Hampton’s arbitration case the year before his free agency back in the day? The Astros actually won that one. His was the classic example how a team can win in the short-term but ultimately lose on the long-term.
My guess is that there won’t be much in terms of residual effects from this hearing today. After all, the earliest McHugh can leave via free agency is 2020. There has been no indication of ill will between the two sides. And we don’t know what was the case for and against McHugh receiving an extra $500,000 in salary. At the end of the day we are just not privy to the information shared.
However, the fact that the Astros held out strong on the $500,000 is somewhat intriguing. This is a data-first driven franchise. At least it is all over for another year. Now we can focus more on the upcoming 2017 season.
**Statistics and salary information courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs**