What a difference a year makes to arbitration

Last off-season, the Astros faced a rather large list of eight arbitration-eligible players. They cut ties with the injured Aaron Sanchez in December and avoided arbitration with Joe Biagini by signing him to a $1 million contract for 2020. Hey, Astros, next time you have a spare million you are willing to flush down the toilet, I know a volunteer Astro blogger who could put that money to much better use.

The meat of last year’s arbitration class were some pretty big names plus some huge names. George Springer, Carlos Correa, Roberto Osuna, Aledmys Diaz, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski. The Astros ended up settling with everyone but Diaz, who was awarded a $2.6 MM salary for 2020 vs. the $2 MM offered by the team in arbitration. Springer “settled” for $21 MM, Correa for $8 MM, Osuna for $10 MM, Peacock for $3.9 MM and Devenski for $2 MM.

Of course last year this was all a sidelight to the main event. In this same time frame, the Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year by MLB and subsequently fired by the Astros.

This year, arbitration seems like an open and shut case. There are only three players involved now that Chris Devenski and Joe Biagini have been released. The three arb-eligible players are Lance McCullers, Carlos Correa and Aledmys Diaz. This will be the last arbitration-eligible year for both McCullers and Correa, who become Free Agents after 2021. Diaz will be a free agent after 2022.

It would be headline news if any of these three are not tendered by the club. There could be some question about Diaz because of his injury history, but the way the team’s bench performed last season makes Aledmys a keeper, especially at a reasonable dollar number.

MLB Trade Rumors normally takes a good shot at predicting arbitration numbers. This year after a season that included only 37% of the normal amount of games played, they are not sure what to do about it. One way they looked at it was using a 37% factor. They guessed what $ a player would get for a full season and then factored it down to 37% of that raise.

For the three Astros here is what they are predicting:

  • Carlos Correa. Made $8 MM last year, he should make $10.2 MM in arbitration based on a full season but is predicted to get $8.8 MM
  • Lance McCullers. Made $4.7 MM last year, he should make $7 MM in arbitration based on a full season but is predicted to get $5.2 MM
  • Aledmys Diaz. Made $2.8 MM last year, he should make $3.1 MM in arbitration based on a full season but is predicted to get $2.9 MM

You would think that the small raise set up for Correa might give the team a window to at least try to extend Carlos. But this close to free agency, even with questions about baseball finances, it is hard to not think Correa will wait to be free.

McCullers might be the more likely to sign an extension at this point.

In the end the arbitration “season” could be a big non-story or with an extension or two could be the biggest story of the off-season after the replacement of George Springer and Michael Brantley.


49 comments on “What a difference a year makes to arbitration

  1. Dan, I pinned your Chipalatta article and gave you the usual kudos @ twitter. On merits, it may draw the interest of new readers.

    I wonder too, like you, exactly what the plan is with Diaz. Honestly, I think it’s pretty debatable whether we arb, trade, or retain him. If we do sign him another year, for example, it really puts a wrench in Mayfield (DFA), Toro (Straw Jones & Stubbs as UTIL), as well as McCormick and De la Cruz if Diaz were to assume 20 starts in LF.

    All these seem like real possibles Astros could choose one direction over the other. HOU could sign Aledmys and let him take a Marwin-type role if Diaz were polishing up his ceiling expectations.

    Here’s an interesting discussion about things the Astros are discussing.

    Seems like the gentleman is making assumptions about Springer and Morton even having a desire to come to HOU, and reveals his bias about Straw in the end by saying he doen’t want to have to “look at him everyday.” Dang, how do you really feel? I’ll just go on record and say there’s better than 50% chance Myles Straw #3 will be OD CF, and that he’ll get lion’s share starts this year. I’d be in the market for a lockdown relief pitcher first, like Hand or others.


    For years I’ve liked Eddie Rosario in MN, let’s trade for him?! Several buddies in twin cities say he’s under-valued too, and they have the future in Kepler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks GoStros for “pinning” me on Twitter. I don’t know if it is good or bad. I hope that they don’t ever find out my political leaning or they might unpin me……
      I am willing to give Myles Straw another shot. He might improve and if he doesn’t he doesn’t cost anything.
      Diaz seems to me to have a decent bat – not as sure about his glove or his ability to stay healthy

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah my son just texted me that, op
      On the positive side if he keeps his nose (and veins) clean he can make $24 MM in 2022 and 2023 at the age of 39 and 40…..


    • Getting popped was as team-friendly to Cohen, as it was Dipoto.

      Jerry needed one thing gone to *ever* be able to maneuver, the albatross. Under cover of fire, it cost him the 2018 reliever of the year Diaz.

      Cohen comes into a depressed market, wants to make a splash — the rules are so friendly that Cano isn’t punished as a “repeat offender”, and he just FOUND $24m to play with. Mets, just like the Cubs, would trade any of their big dollar personnel, especially when they had JD Davis come in and displace 3 money guys ahead of him (Lowrie, McNeil, Frazier) in 2019.

      It’s either a concerted effort, or we’re supposed to believe Robbie Cano believed he could trick the system after already getting caught Siri how many times has Cano been busted?

      Uhhh, no. Didn’t just fall off the vegetable truck. He did it on purpose and the Mets knew beforehand. Let’s see who they enlist to shoot that down, Andy Martino. yep, good guess. Modern journos are garbage! “Getting caught” c’mon man.

      Andy Martino
      Andy Pettitte and Robinson Cano share the unfortunate distinction of getting caught both times they tried it.


  2. Not to go down the rabbit hole there, sure is a “stroke of luck” for the Mets. Maybe Verlander will test positive too?

    Op, your comment on the other thread about buzzards seeing all the nuances of Rivera’s spin rate, velocity and what-not. Sent me down an interesting study today.

    Part of why I’m so high on these pitchers, and maybe a little too early to say with certainty a Luis Garcia can grab hold of a rotation spot in ’21, or that Pete Solomon will be ahead of schedule is that deep dive into the 2018 QC staff; and the 2019 Woodpecker staff. The teams that re-wrote the MiLB strikeout records.

    It was helpful to use Baseball Cube to click onto best WHIP, etc. Here’s a sample of the kids that not only made it to the Show already, but who are knocking on the door hard, like Conine and Torres. To see how good Brett Conine’s control, he led the bulk starters in SO:BB with 4.71. Lots of ways to compare contrast the guys,… Who Are Yet in the system.

    Like, whatever happened to Chad Donato, and Parker Mushinski from ’18-’19? Hard to believe they didn’t keep it going, because they were dominant.

    Another example I’m sure you’ve heard of is Rily Cabral. Not highly regarded, the guy had 14.37 SO/9, and that was after promotion.


    So, what I was thinking from Astros standpoint, from what I’ve read pitchers say that coaches sometimes get them to work on stuff they know will take time.
    We have so many promising arms, it would not shock me if Elias and Hinch both pluck someone just because they know how well trained (even if stats don’t match).

    These are the pitchers I think could stick somewhere
    Angel Macuare
    JP Lopez
    Willie Collado
    Possibly Collin McKee, Jose Bravo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MLB Trade Rumors had an interesting article the other day about arb eligible/non-tender candidates: https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/11/2020-non-tender-candidates.html

    Eddie Rosario of the Twins is on the list and as GoStros1 mentions, he could be a possible trade target. Twins have outfield depth and need pitchers. We have pitching depth and need outfielders.

    Another guy on the list I was looking at is Brian Goodwin of the Reds. His career stats on offense are slightly better than Jackie Bradley Jr; on defense slightly worse. His payroll cost will be much lower, and I think if we can re-sign Brantley, we will try to keep our spending for CF down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good list and I agree with Goodwin for sure! Boy, has he bounced around though. He’s one of those Astro killers when he was on the Angels, like David Fletcher.

      Interesting former Astros there too; Feliz, Trop, Valesquez.

      Even ol’ Jon Gray — I remember him against our AA guys. One pitching stats expert I know has always wanted a Strom / JGray union.

      Two that Click will know all about is Huinter Renfroe and Y Chirinos the pitcher. Two definite possibles.


    • Can someone explain to me why people are trying to make Jackie Bradley, Jr. to the Astros happen? He is going to get paid far more than he is worth by someone. He’s a below average hitter and not memorable in the field. He’s on the wrong side of 30. What am I missing? Why do people think Click would pursue him?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Devin, I’d much rather pay Jake 4 million for his excellent defense than pay Bradley 12 million, probably for three years, with his lifetime .732 OPS, especially if there is a chance to get Brantley back in left for a couple of years. Along with a healthy Alvarez, I would not mind Marisnick hitting 9th in our line up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I posted an interview yesterday, The HouSportsMap one with Joel Blanks.

        The speculation is the rumor came from JBJ’s camp, not ours. Because of the things you listed. His byline from BOS ppl though is plus defender with “some” pop. The question remains, if not him, then who?

        -trade for Rosario or the like
        -stick with Diaz Straw Tucker McCormick etc.
        -grab a FA — my money’s on Brantley at around 2/24, but if I were him, I’d be in no hurry until ’21 financial outlook is clearer.

        Astros have the luxury of saturated pool, along with seeing how our Winter League guys are progressing. We also could fast track a Colin Barber, or Bryan De la Cruz if a Diaz were hurt again, per se. Lest we forget, Taylor Jones and Korey Lee have played OF.

        [Excited to see if CJ Stubbs can slug 600 in Corpus, and stand ready to add him to Top 30. His stepdad thumbs up’d the other day on CJ working hard.]


  4. Bregman is projected with 6.0 WAR for 2021, so he is the most likely candidate for MVP of the Astros.
    Tucker is a young player with All-Star potential and 5 more years of control. He is a player other teams want and, in that perspective, this article deems him too valuable to trade, since he has delivered on his potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder how much winning means to George, because the Red Sox look like they are a ways from winning. The Mets could get there, but with new leadership who knows where they are headed. Toronto would be an interesting choice because they really are a young team on the upswing that could really use a veteran like Springer.
      One question on the Astros, they will have Verlander and Greinke off the books headed into 2022. If they think it is hopeless to re-sign Correa (who may be headed to the bright lights) wouldn’t it make sense to go hard after Springer who they could maybe get to take a little lighter 2021 with bigger bucks behind it? But again maybe he wants to get away from “it”.


      • i think it is pretty close to critical that the astros sign one or the other of correa and springer. and as dan says with jv and greinke off the books in 2022 (just one season away) there is plenty of payroll flex to do something.


  5. George was already gone, silly to hold out hope.

    I predict tonight protecting:
    Whitley Solis Ivey Rivera Nova Solomon (and Rivera vs Castellanos)
    Mayfield Bailey( makes 40)

    Joe Smith is in limbo not roster’d

    Garcia will start in AAA probably or with French.

    We will need to make trade(s) that free up space this offseason.


  6. I am a silly person. But I’m not the type to hold out and hope something happens. Life provides plenty of options, only some of which we can control. As far as the Astros go, we’re going to be a tough team regardless of who James Click puts in center field.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’ll be Straw to begin with, so we’ll see how much of a believer you are in Click on that front. Throughout the season we’ll rotate, since Tucker & McCormick can play CF. The Int’l market might bring us something.

      Seems like Barber Daniels and BDLC are ahead of schedule, so the need for a 3-yr signing is less desirable.

      I’m warming to the idea of Hunter Renfroe, though.
      Click would know the in’s & out’s there.


      • I have more confidence in Click than that. You will recall that I was pretty high on Straw not too long ago. But at this point I’m not sure if he catch up to a major league fastball and he did not impress in center. A lack of playing time makes it unreasonable to write the guy off, but I don’t think our GM will go into opening day without having come up with a more proven option at center.


  7. From my post on freezing the 40 man…..

    “Out of all these players, who is in the most danger of being taken off the 40 man roster?

    Justin Verlander. He is taking up a spot, and there is no chance he will pitch during the 2021 season. He will get paid, and no one will pick him up.
    Jack Mayfield. He’s 30 years old and shown next to nothing in two cameos in the majors. No one is picking him up in the Rule 5
    Cy Sneed. He’s 28 years old with a 5.50+ ERA in two seasons, plus he gives up more than 11 hits per 9 innings. He is just a body at this point.
    Austin Pruitt. Yes, I know he is a local kid, and he is someone they liked a lot when they got him from the TB Rays. But he didn’t pitch for them and may not pitch any time soon, and he is 31 years old.
    Rogelio Armenteros. This would be a bit risky. He is coming off surgery and has not pitched since that surgery last March. This comes down to how the Astros value Armenteros (26 y.o.) vs. some of the younger pitchers who might get taken.”

    So I have hit on two of them so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What is interesting is that Constellation field holds 7500 for baseball and I believe that AAA stadiums are supposed to hold 10,000. I’m not sure if this is still true in the age of COVID


      • There are currently eight, triple A, minor league stadiums with less than 10,000 capacity for fans. Most of these particular ones have 9,000+ capacity save for the Skeeters and the Tacoma Rainiers’ Cheney Stadium which holds a measly 6,500 fans in its seats. This team belongs to the Seattle Mariners.


  8. Reds Acquire Brandon Bailey From Astros

    Kyle Boddy is a former Astro pitching guy, and a smart dude.

    As my friend’s son said, he’d rather rather face Whitley than Bailey, circa May 2019.

    And so there it is. The end of an era on Ramon Laureano, who may put up 20 WAR before it’s all said and done. Laureano was still a great find by Jim Stevenson, I think a JUCO kid in Oklahoma.


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