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.