Astros choose not to exercise Will Harris’ club option for 2019
By Cody Poage
The Astros made another decision on a club option it held for one of their relievers.
Despite another consistently respectable season from right-hander Will Harris, the Astros chose to decline a team option for the veteran pitcher. Not that the news is all that surprising as the option would’ve pay him $5.5 million in 2019.
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes in his tweet, Harris is still under club control since he has not reached six years of service time in the major leagues. If the Astros elect to keep Harris for next season, then the organization must tender him a contract by November 30th as part of the arbitration process. The 34-year old Harris is scheduled to become a free agent upon the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Through 56 2/3 innings in 2018, the right-hander posted a 3.49 ERA and 2.44 FIP. While his home run-to-fly ball rate dropped from 17.1% in 2017 to 8.6% in 2018, Harris saw his strikeout decline while his walks increase. By ERA, his latest season in Houston wasn’t his best.
- 2015: 1.90 ERA
- 2016: 2.25 ERA
- 2017: 2.98 ERA
- 2018: 3.49 ERA
Harris’ season, more-or-less, was a roller coaster. He started the season on fire with a 1.69 ERA in his first 10 2/3 innings. From May through July, however, Harris didn’t have his usual stuff as he posted a 5.00-plus ERA in three consecutive months. But he turned a corner in August as he finished the season with a 1.49 ERA over his last 18 1/3 innings.
To his credit, Harris was quite efficient against right-handed hitters as opponents slashed .187/.216/.290 against him. Left-handed hitters were the issue for the right-hander as they slashed .262/.339/.333. He also earned a spot on the team’s ALDS roster, although he didn’t make the ALCS roster when the Astros played the Red Sox.
The decision for Houston to decline the club option on Harris’ deal makes sense from a team perspective. For one, the Astros still have club control on one of their more consistent relievers during the past four seasons. While the front office could elect not to tender Harris a contract for 2019, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they actually do extend him a contract offer. The club option was worth $5.5 million and Harris’ 2018 salary was $2.8 million, so you can easily see why the Astros made the decision they did.
For Harris, the news has to be a disappointment to a certain level. Most people would enjoy a payroll increase that Harris was line to receive if Houston exercised his club option. I can’t help but wonder if he had any prior knowledge about the Astros’ decision, however, I am assuming too much. The age-34 reliever could still see a raise as he did have a generally solid 2018 when you look at the final results. I would think a raise to a figure anywhere from $3.2 to $3.5 million is plausible. In the event that the Astros choose to not to offer Harris a contract tender by November 30th, he would surely attract plenty of interest as a free agent.