The Houston Astros and Kyle Tucker will head to arbitration
The Astros by and large did a great job at the arbitration deadline, reaching an agreement with Blake Taylor, Framber Valdez, Phil Maton,José Urquidy, Mauricio Dubón and Ryne Stanek, avoiding arb hearings with all six parties.
Unfortunately, two of their most important pieces both now and for the future will head to arbitration. Kyle Tucker joins Cristian Javier as an Astro headed in front of an arbitrator.
This is discouraging news, as just like we mentioned in the Javier piece, arbitration hearings can get ugly. It is not exactly encouraging that the Astros and Tucker are $2.5 million apart. According to Jon Heyman, Tucker filed at $7.5 million while the Astros filed at $5 million.
The $2.5 million gap ties Bo Bichette for the largest spread between player and team.
Houston shouldn't drag its feet with Tucker. Ideally, they'd avoid arbitration altogether. Tucker is an elite player in today's game. The All-Star right fielder sis the best defensive outfielder in the game and one of the best bats in the world. His .808 OPS and 128 OPS+ will skyrocket with the removal of the shift.
We've frequently written that Tucker was among the three-most punished players by the shift. A 30 home run, 25 stolen base, gold glove season with an average around .310 and an OPS over .900 is not even remotely out of the question. Assuming he moves up from the six-spot, Tucker should cruise to 100-115 RBIs.
Houston has let fan favorites and elite talent walk before. None have been as young and durable as Tucker, who is just entering his prime.
Let's bypass arbitration altogether. It's time to extend Kyle Tucker. Houston can't afford to fracture the relationship with a messy arb hearing over a $2.5 million gap.