Astros expect to tender contracts to all 11 arbitration-eligible players
The Astros will encounter another offseason deadline Friday night, one that could carry around $50 million worth of implications.
Eleven arbitration-eligible Astros — including starters Gerrit Cole and Lance McCullers Jr., shortstop Carlos Correa and closer Roberto Osuna — must be tendered contracts by 7 p.m. Friday.
Arbitration-eligible players have at least three — but no more than six — years of service time. Other Houston players include Chris Devenski, Collin McHugh, Will Harris, Brad Peacock, Ryan Pressly and Jake Marisnick. Chris Herrmann, the former Mariners catcher whom the Astros claimed off waivers in early November, is also eligible for arbitration.
Though he hesitated to confirm it outright, general manager Jeff Luhnow acknowledged Thursday the club will tender contracts to all 11 players.
“We’ve got until tomorrow, so I’m not going to say something won’t change. But at this point, yes (we will tender contracts to all 11 players),” Luhnow said.
“We’re in pretty good shape there. We’ve been talking through it for a while. We’ve got a pretty good sense of the guys we want to keep, and it’s basically most of the guys, if not all of them.”
If and when the players are tendered contracts, they are automatically signed for the 2019 season. Each tendered player has until Jan. 11 to exchange salary figures with the organization. The sides can avoid arbitration by agreeing to a deal prior to that aforementioned deadline.
Last season, for example, George Springer signed a two-year, $24 million deal to avoid a hearing and take him through 2019. Harris signed a two-year deal, too, but the Astros declined his $5.5 million club option this offseason, making him again arbitration eligible.
If the two sides cannot agree on a salary before that January deadline, the matter moves to arbitration hearings, which ordinarily take place in February. Of the Astros’ 11 arbitration-eligible players, only McHugh and Osuna have ever gone to arbitration hearings.
McHugh has won his arbitration case for two straight seasons. As a Blue Jay, Osuna lost his arbitration case last season.
According to a projected salary model for arbitration-eligible players calculated by MLB Trade Rumors, the 11 Astros are predicted to command $49.7 million.
Cole leads the group at a projected $13.1 million salary. Osuna, McHugh and Correa each project for more than $5 million, according to the site.