Astros 2020: To tender or not to tender


Back a few hundred years ago, that old bard Billy Shakespeare started his play, Richard III with the Astro applicable words, “Now is the winter of our discontent….”. This has been a tough time for every fan of the team and obviously more so for those folks who still work (for the time being) for the Astros. But the off-season moves on and more importantly, critical deadlines come and go regardless of dark clouds hovering and true hearts suffering.

The next deadline to roll around is on December 2nd. As Bard Billy (with a small change here) also said, “To Tender or not to Tender…. that is the question…”. The Astros will have to decide on that date, which arbitration-eligible players they want to tender (continue with negotiations or arbitration) or those they want to non-tender (allow to become free agents).

Just like the last two off-seasons, the Astros have a boatload of players who are arb-eligible. Unlike the last two off-seasons, there are probably more of these players that have question marks about them against their expected salaries. Also, unlike the last two off-seasons, there are doubts about obtaining players by other means.

  • Will players want to come as free agents to an organization that is waiting for the sword to fall? Do they want to be signed by someone or sign to play for someone, who may not be in charge in a month or so?
  • Will other teams want to face the fall-out from their fans of making trades with the “cheaters”? A few years ago I might have laughed this off, but in the current over-sensitive world, you never know what people will organize against and how teams and their sponsors will react.
  • And what is the budget line that Jim Crane will support, especially when he is unsure what punishments and fines may be brought from above? Will he have to eat some salaries of front office or dugout folks that he may be forced to pink slip?
  • Will these uncertainties make the certainty of players still under club control through arbitration look more attractive? They can also replace players from within the organization, but that has not been their vehicle of first choice to date.

In the off-season following the 2017 World Series, the Astros only non-tendered pitcher Mike Fiers. With 20/20 hindsight that may end up being a baaaaaad decision. They then came to agreements with or went to arbitration with Evan Gattis, Ken Giles, Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, George Springer, Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jake Marisnick.

Last off-season they only non-tendered a player who never played an inning for the team, catcher Chris Herrmann, who they had just picked up off waivers. They then came to an agreement or went to arbitration with Gerrit Cole, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Lance McCullers Jr., Collin McHugh, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock, Ryan Pressly, Carlos Correa, and Jake Marisnick.

So after settling with 9 out of 10 players and 10 out of 11 players – the Astros face a list of 9 players this off-season – George Springer, Carlos Correa, Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers, Aledmys Diaz, Jake Marisnick, Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, and Roberto Osuna.

So with expected arbitration numbers from Spotrac at our fingertips, let’s look at each of these players.

George Springer. 30 years old. Expected arb salary $21.4 MM

The Astros will tender Springer and then I think they will work hard to extend him, though being one season away from FA, he may have no interest. But he will be back.

Carlos Correa. 25. Expected  $7.4 MM

If Carlos could play 140 games next season, he might be the biggest bargain in baseball. (I know it is a big “could”). They will tender him. They might dangle him in a trade, but it would have to be a “blow us away” trade centered around a good controllable pitcher or two.

Brad Peacock. Will be 32. Expected – $4.6 MM

He was down a bit last season (4.12 ERA), but his ERA went south big time in a single game right before he went on the IL for almost two months. They need his arm and his flexibility between the bullpen and rotation and there is a good chance he could start the season in the rotation as a place holder until someone like Forrest Whitley is ready. They will tender him.

Lance McCullers. 26. Expected $4.1 MM

Well if they tendered the young man for a season they knew he could not play, they will certainly tender him now, especially with the news that he is basically clear to throw all his pitches.

Aledmys Diaz. 29. Expected $2.4 MM

No, he did not flash a Marwin Gonzalez glove moving around the diamond, but at his low expected price and with the solid bat he showed (when he wasn’t hurt) they will definitely tender him.

Jake Marisnick. Will be 29. Expected – $3.0 MM

This is an extremely tough one to guess. Does going to a 26 man roster open up an extra spot to keep him or does it financially make the team more likely to go cheap at the end of the roster? They certainly could go young with Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez and Myles Straw completing the outfield with Springer and Michael Brantley. The guess here is that they will tender Jake, but they will look for a spot to move him for a prospect along the way.

Aaron Sanchez. 27. Expected $5.6 MM

This one is even tougher to call, because we are not privy to exactly how long they expect Sanchez to be out after his shoulder surgery. If they thought he might be back shortly after the season starts, spend a few weeks in extended spring training and show up sometime in May, they might tender him. If they think it will be longer, there is a good chance they won’t. The guess here is he will be non-tendered.

Joe Biagini. 29. Expected $1.5 MM

In a very small sample, 14.2 IP – Biagini was horrid for the Astros giving up 21 hits, 6 HRs, 9 walks and having his fat saved by guys like Will Harris to hold it to only a 7.36 ERA. There are only a couple reasons they would tender him. One – if he had an injury he was pitching through or two – they think Brent Strom could straighten him out. I mean $1.5 MM is tip money in the majors, but of course it is not my tip money. I think they will non-tender him.

Roberto Osuna. Will be 25. Expected $10.2 MM

This is the toughest call on here. Osuna has mostly been a good closer. He has not had a hint of trouble about him since coming back from his suspension with the Blue Jays for alleged domestic abuse. But with all the PR fallout from the cheating scandal is Osuna at $10.2 MM too expensive an anchor for this team to carry onward, especially after the Brandon Taubman meltdown? This is a 50/50 in my mind. This one may depend entirely on who is making the call on this one. The guess here is ……I’m waiting until my flipped coin comes down. Oh, darned – it landed on edge. OK – y’all make the call on this one.

So there you go. It will be one of many interesting steps that will occur this off-season. How do you see these falling out?

25 comments on “Astros 2020: To tender or not to tender

  1. my guess.. they bring back osuna for sure. and they bring back everyone else with the possible exception of sanchez. but if he is ready to pitch early in the season, i think he is back as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. File this under “Kicking a good man when he is down” but the Orioles have dumped Jonathan Villar. But the line in the story that got me was “Beyond that is the simple fact that Villar has been a fine player in Baltimore — arguably the organization’s best in 2019.”

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  3. If I was the GM I would tender Correa, Springer and LMJ. I would let the others go.
    Straw instead of Marisnick.
    Toro instead of Diaz.
    Sanchez and Biagini I don’t think twice about.
    Devenski has reached the limit of my patience.
    Peacock is the hard one for me because, when he’s good he’s damn good. When he’s not, he walks too many batters in important moments.
    Like I said before, I think we have guys in the minors who can match these pitchers performances for minimum salary.
    Osuna? I know we dont have someone to take his place, but over $10 million for the heartache just doesn’t do it for me. It’s the Gm’s job to find a replacement. I go with Pressly and find another 8th inning guy. We have enough PR problems as it is. Spend his money on two or three pitchers.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dan, your first two points remain my biggest concern. Additionally, will anyone we want to re-sign decide to take off and go to work for a club without our baggage?

    I don’t see either Blue Jay back. Nor Devenski. Straw might have more trade value than Jake. Although I’d like to have Jake move on, if Luhnow is making the decision, then I think Jake remains on our 26 man when the season opens. If Jake goes, then i think we keep Straw, Toro and Diaz.

    Right now I’m too flummoxed as to what to do about the rest of the pitching staff. But I’d be okay with Osuna moving on. That helps pay for Harris. Of immediate concern tonight though is that I’m really pondering the roasted Brussels Sprouts with lemon pesto request and what to do interesting with the parsnips. Happy Thanksgiving all!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Osuna was traded here, he’s kept his nose clean as best we know, he served his time, the legal case has been dismissed. He’s done what the club wanted him to do and he’s done it well for the most part. Personally, if they dismiss him because of his “baggage” which has all been vetted and accepted in the past I would harshly criticize management for treating him unfairly and threatening his career via collateral damage for things that don’t involve him. Now, op’s point is a fair one: if he’s too expensive and can effectively be replaced with cheaper alternatives, that’s business and I can accept that much better than sacrificing the guy on a pyre of political correctness/CYA that in this case is not his fault.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Tend to agree with the prevailing thoughts here:
    Yes – GS, CC, BP, LMJ
    Trade or non tender – Diaz, Marisnick, Sanchez, Biagini, Devo
    Trade – Osuna ( Agree that as it is I think his value is up. He’s paid the price for his past mistakes but I look at this as a purely financial move. He had 38 saves in 66 appearances with 6 blown saves. Somebody would love to have that guy in their bullpen. I just don’t think we want to spend 10.2MM.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good news for Astros fans. (Don’t know tenders from turkeys.) Craig Fifer of Alexandria, Virginia wrote to the Chron Nov 1 to thank Astros fans for being so welcoming and courteous to him when he visited for Game 7 as a Nationals supporter. He says this morning he got hundreds of personal replies from Texas to thank him for his thank you note. Then the letter went viral and was shared 27,000 times online in the first few days. That means the lovingkindness of Astros fans, starting small and personal and local, has gone nationwide and continues to multiply. Astros fans are not losers; we are winners where it counts. And that’s something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. A wonderful holiday to all.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Overall the people here – fans or not – are some of the most polite well bred folks around. There are always a few bad eggs but in general these are good folks here and deserve to be lauded for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Over the last 10 years or so, there have been many family gatherings with all of our children, mainly at holiday times like this weekend.
    During those celebrations our children have laughingly talked about all the stunts each other pulled growing up that we, their parents, didn’t know about.
    As parents, we laugh and cry when we find these things out because our entire lives were always geared to raising our kids in the best ways we possibly could, and doing the best job we knew how.
    Our kids turned out fine, though all of them are completely different. And I mean significantly different.
    But there is another child that we and our children grew up with. The Astros.
    When it turns out that this particular child did something to fool us in a bad way, we won’t find out about it until well after it happened and it will definitely cause us to pause and realize that our team let us down in a big way and that’s gonna hurt.
    But they are my team. I won’t disown them. I will rejoice if they pay for their wrongdoing and show regret and weed out the ones responsible and accept their punishment and bring in folks that we can trust again to keep baseball safe from further embarrassment.
    In the meantime, I will do everything I can to make interesting comments here regarding the direction the Astros are taking and the direction I would foresee them taking or the direction I would like to see them taking
    I’m not giving up on the little angels we tried to raise and I won’t give up on the team that may turn out to not be the little angels I thought they were.
    Unlike the Patriots, I hope that if the Astros did improper things, they move on from the people who were in charge so that the rest of baseball will trust us and like us again.
    So I say Happy Thanksgiving to all here and wish you a great Thanksgiving Weekend and Christmastime, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Love me tenders
    Love me, George
    We don’t want to see you go
    You made dingers so complete
    And we love you so

    Love me tenders
    Love me Carlos
    All our dreams fulfilled
    For Our Captain we love you
    And we always will

    Love me tenders
    Say so long
    Aaron and Big Joe
    FA is where you belong
    We don’t want no part

    Love me tenders
    Love me, Lance
    Tell me you are mine
    You’ve been our through all the years
    Stay with us this time

    When at last your dreams come true
    Devo, this we know
    We’ve got Straw to mimic you
    As you walk out the door.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hats off to OP, and was not expecting to find this here right now. So very good! My post-day ruinations not quite same. Just that if you’re losing, the seats aren’t full. If you’re winning, they are, or near so. The stakes are high at the top, and maybe we don’t want to know how sausage is made. We want to feel good and we prefer to win if possible. Maybe we, the loyal fans, played a part we’d rather not consider. If you’ve examined your heart and you’re okay, more power to you and happy for you. For my part, I’ve looked and am not enamored with what I see.

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