Before Friday's deadline for contract agreements prior to becoming set for arbitration, seven of ten Astros players reached deals with the ballclub, the team announced. Coming to terms were outfielder Jake Marisnick and six pitchers - Will Harris, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Ryan Pressly. No terms were released but some have already leaked out.
Devenski: At what price?
(c) Associated Press
The surprise in the group is McHugh who took the club to arbitration each of the last two years and beat the Astros both times. McHugh switched from starting pitcher to relief last season and turned in a 6-2 record with a 1.99 ERA. He's penciled back into the rotation for this year unless the Astros make some new additions.
Likewise, Peacock went from starting in 2017 (13-2, 3.00) back to the bullpen (3-5, 3.46) last year. Typically, relievers earn less than starters (fewer innings) but who knows if that was factored into the salary discussions?
McCullers will be out the entire season after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He's announced he will earn $4.1 million which is nice coin for spending the year rehabilitating. Harris will make $4.225 million in his final year of club control.
The three players left unsigned that will likely now have their cases decided next month are shortstop Carlos Correa and pitchers Gerrit Cole and Chris Devenski. The surprise there is Devenski who has had an up-and-down existence since making the parent club. Devenski, no doubt, remembers his All-Star season in 2017 while the Astros probably remember his 11.48 ERA over his last 15 appearances. Mark that down as one case that could get contentious.
Correa is in his first year of arbitration and he, too, came on like gangbusters as the AL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and slumped through a 2018 season marred by back ailments. The two sides are probably negotiating his price point for subsequent years of arbitration eligibility.
Cole, acquired in trade from Pittsburgh, had a fine year in 2018 (15-5, 2.88) and earned $6.75 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He's the most likely to receive a contract extension offer once his price point is set.
Meanwhile, third baseman Alex Bregman, the All-Star Game MVP, underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery to clean out debris from his right elbow. He will probably take it easy during spring training and aims to be ready when the regular season begins.
The Astros also announced the early portion of their annual winter caravan with stops in Katy, Round Rock (promoting the return of the Round Rock Express to their AAA affiliation), Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio. Other stops are likely to be added. These events are normally well-attended with current and former Astros and broadcasters making appearances and sometimes signing autographs.
Finally, the 2018 season recap page is now online here and other items from last year will be added as time permits. You may have also noticed some new video content is being added to the front page. We're still tweaking the placement and size. The audio begins when you click the player and a pop up at the right bottom of the player allows you to make it full screen to enjoy the highlights up close. Feel free to let us know your thoughts.
- Bob Hulsey