After almost a month of silence coming from the Astros, the front office announced Friday that three players eligible for arbitration had been signed to one-year deals. Among them is former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel who agreed to a $9.15 million contract. This will be a "make good" year for the American League's top pitcher in 2015 who fell off to a 9-12 campaign with a 4.55 ERA in 2016. The 29-year-old lefty will be entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility next winter and he would either need to be signed to a longer contract for 2019 or become a free agent.
Springer Dingers will fly in '17
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Outfielder George Springer also came to terms with the Astros for $3.9 million. The 27-year-old will have three more years to go before becoming a free agent. Fellow outfielder Jake Marisnick also agreed to a new contract - his reported to be worth $1.1 million.
That leaves four players who will need to come to an agreement in the next few weeks or face a three-judge panel in February to determine whether the player's desired salary is more fair that what the club's final offer will be. Those four are pitchers Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Will Harris and infielder Marwin Gonzalez. None should be that difficult to sign although Harris spent time as the team's closer for part of the summer and earned a spot on the American League All-Star team, two factors Harris and his agent will hope can drive up his salary.
The Astros announced that 18 non-roster invitees will be joining the 40-man roster for Spring Training, hoping to catch a job with the parent club. In all honesty, very few positions will be up for grabs barring trades or injuries.
Wednesday the 18th will be the date that Hall of Fame inductions will be announced. Popular first baseman Jeff Bagwell seems to be close to a certainty to join his infield buddy Craig Biggio as Houston inductees. Outfielder Tim Raines, who starred with the Expos and Yankees among others, also appears to be a lock to win induction.
75 percent of all ballots must list a nominee for them to achieve induction. Catching legend Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who was an Astro for less than a season during 2009, may also have enough to get elected this year in his first attempt.
Former Astros Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent and Billy Wagner are not expected to reach the 75% threshold this year but each should remain eligible for next year.
Finally, rumors persist that the Astros are the leading candidate to land Chicago White Sox lefthander Jose Quintana in trade if the Sox decide to deal him as they did lefty Chris Sale earlier this winter. Quintana was an All-Star last year and is expected to cost three of Houston's top prospects if they agree to the deal. He would be able to fit with Keuchel and McHugh to upgrade the starting rotation should the trade get done.
- Bob Hulsey