Three Astros will head to arbitration hearings in February.
The Houston Astros announced that they reached an agreement with four of the final seven players to avoid arbitration. When I heard that, I hoped that they did reach an agreement with George Springer, the World Series MVP. Instead, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Brad Peacock, and Evan Gattis all reached agreements on deals for 2018. That leaves three unresolved cases.
Joining Springer is Ken Giles and Collin McHugh as the unresolved cases. This isn’t McHugh’s first rodeo. He lost his arbitration case last year. So it’s not too surprising to see him there again. According to Jon Heyman, McHugh files at $5 million and the team filed $4.55 million. That doesn’t seem to be that big a difference to squabble over, surprise they couldn’t work it out. McHugh missed the first half of 2017 with a dead arm.
Giles is coming off a terrible performance in the playoffs in 2017. The Astros were able to win despite that and maintain that he is their closer for 2018. It seemed like he lost his confidence in his pitches in the World Series, so why put him through the arbitration process? The Astros will make a case as to why they believe that he is not worth that number, then the arbitrator will pick the winner.
Heyman reports that Giles filed at $4.6 million, while the team countered with $4.2 million. Once again, this seems like a small amount. But when a team gets to pay for Justin Verlander‘s deal for the next two years, they will try to save money elsewhere. The front office relies on sabermetrics to value players, and I guess they are stubborn in their valuation as being accurate.
Well, let’s talk about Springer. This player has become the face of the franchise despite Jose Altuve winning the AL MVP Award. Springer was on the cover of the now famous Sports Illustrated issue predicting that they would be Champs in 2017. Springer also was basically super glued to the World Series trophy during the victory tour.
According to Bob Nightengale, Springer filed at $10.5 million while the Astros counter with $8.5 million. This is by far the largest difference of the three players but also is the most valuable. In my opinion, he is the heart and soul of the team. As Springer goes, so do the Astros. While he hasn’t offered the speed we expected, he offers everything else as a baseball player.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Springer to make $8.9 million in arbitration. Maybe the two sides could have agreed to split down the middle for an even $9.5, but what do I know? I’m not sure the Astros could win this case with what he means for this team. If they want to keep him long-term, you would think they would give the man what he wants.
What about the players who the Astros did reach a deal with? According to Robert Murray, Gattis got $6.7 million, which was close to MLBTR projected $6.6 million. There are some concerns as too whether Keuchel will return to Houston beyond 2018. According to Heyman, he will get $13.2 million. That is above MLBTR projected $12.6 million, so the Astros took care of their bearded ace.
The 2017 season was the rise of Peacock, who finally became the player they traded for from the Athletics. McCullers is a rising star with the Astros, health depending. Their numbers have not become public yet, but it’s good to get those four deals done. We will see what happens in the hearings in February. Baseball is around the corner.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***