The next step in the Astros’ offseason involves the team exchanging salary numbers by this Friday Jan. 10th with the arbitration-eligible players. They could come to terms with some of their arbitration-eligible players before reaching that exchange point, or during the time between exchanging numbers and holding hearings. Here is a look at all the arbitration-eligible players on the team:
- Alex Bregman. They do not have to go to arbitration with Alex after signing him to a back loaded $100 MM over 5 years last season
- Lance McCullers Jr. The team and Lance agreed to a 1 yr / $4.1 MM contract (the same amount he made for not playing in 2019) to avoid arbitration
- Joe Biagini. This one is an interesting situation. Back in early December, ESPN reported that Biagini had agreed to a 1 yr / $1 MM contract. CBS reported that Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (spit!!) had reported that Biagini had agreed to a contract without stating a $$ amount. However, I cannot find any place in mlb.com or on the Astros site where they reported this. And he is still shown on mlbtraderumors.com as predicting he will get $1.5 MM in arbitration. So, I don’t know the story, but the $1 MM sounds closer to reality…..
- George Springer – George just finished off a contract that bought out two seasons of arbitration for 2 yrs / $24 MM. The predictions out there are that he will make $21.4 MM in arbitration this time around. That sounds right as far as production goes, but high considering he has played only 140 and 122 games the last two seasons and will turn 31 at the end of next season. Will they fight him on this? Will they try and sign him to an extension? If they signed him to a backloaded extension like they did with Bregman that might work and could get them past the Verlander/Greinke $$$ bubble. But if I were Springer I might bet on myself – take the $20 MM or so in arbitration and see what the open market brings me after 2020.
- Carlos Correa. Correa was arb eligible last off-season and got a $5 MM contract out of it. After missing 53, 52, and 87 games the last three seasons the predictors have him down for a healthy, but quite affordable raise to $7.4 MM in 2020. Would the Astros try to extend him while he is at the bottom of his earnings? They might try, but it is more likely that he will wait until he is coming off a better season to sign anything long term (and that may not be until he is a free agent after 2021).
- Roberto Osuna. Osuna made $6.5 MM in 2019. He is predicted to get $10.2 MM in 2020. With the off-season Brandon Taubman “to-do” that was about Osuna’s past (even though he has been behaving very well since joining the Astros) an extension would be a surprise at this point.
- Brad Peacock. Peacock made $3.11 MM in 2019, but struggled with shoulder issues and had his worst numbers since 2015. He is predicted to make $4.6 MM in arbitration this season, which is a fairly small raise these days. Brad feels like a guy they will not extend, but they could be offering him around at the trade deadline knowing they will likely lose him to better opportunities when he hits free agency after 2020.
- Chris Devenski. Devo made about $1.5 MM in 2019 and had his worst year as an Astro. They are predicting he will make $2 MM in arbitration. If the Astros think they can correct whatever is wrong with him an extension would make a heck of a lot of sense at this point. Either way, even though $2 MM is a dream to us fans, it is chump change in the insane financial world of baseball, so expect Devo to be used a bunch out of the bullpen (at least until one of the young bucks bumps him out).
- Aledmys Diaz. Diaz made $2 MM in 2019 and is projected to make $2.4 MM in 2020 after hitting well, but missing June and most of July on the IL. He might be a candidate to try and buy out some or all of his remaining arbitration seasons (through 2022), but he may not be willing to sign that coming off an injury shortened season.
An interesting item to watch will be the accuracy of the salaries estimated for the arbitration participants. These same sources have been underestimating the majority of the free agent contracts being doled out this off-season after a couple of seasons of mostly over-estimating those contracts. It is a little apples to oranges as these players are not eligible to be free agents, but it is likely that their agents will be pointing at these dollar touch points as they try to earn higher arbitration numbers for their clients.
- Who do you think the Astros should extend?
- Who do you think they will extend?
- Are any of these projected numbers way out of whack in your estimation? (I know that for some, making any money playing a kid’s game is way out of whack).
- Who do you think will not make it through the season with the team?