HOUSTON -- Aaron Sanchez, who threw the first six innings of a combined no-hitter in his Astros debut in August and wound up making only three more starts because of injury, was the only arbitration-eligible player non-tendered by the club Monday. Sanchez becomes a free agent.
The Astros announced they had also agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed reliever Joe Biagini -- who came over with Sanchez in a trade with the Blue Jays on July 31 -- for 2020, while tendering contracts to eight arbitration-eligible players: shortstop Carlos Correa, infielder Aledmys Díaz, right-handers Chris Devenski, Lance McCullers Jr., Roberto Osuna and Brad Peacock and outfielders Jake Marisnick and George Springer.
The players tendered contracts are considered signed for next season and can now negotiate their salaries with the club. If they can’t reach a deal by Jan. 10, each side will swap desired salaries for ’20 and head to an arbitration hearing if they can’t agree on a number somewhere in the middle of their offers.
An All-Star in 2016, Sanchez’s stint with the Astros was a short one, covering only four starts following his trade from the Blue Jays. He threw six no-hit innings in his first start with Houston on Aug. 3 to start a combined no-hitter and posted a 4.82 ERA in 18 2/3 innings before getting hurt. He underwent surgery to repair a torn capsule in his right shoulder, putting him out until the middle of next season.
In 27 combined starts with the Blue Jays and Astros last season, Sanchez was 5-14 with a 5.89 ERA. He made $3.9 million last season in his second year of arbitration, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he will earn $5.6 million in ’20, making him an easy non-tender candidate, especially considering the injury.
Biagini, meanwhile, posted a 7.36 ERA in 13 games with the Astros and finished the season with a 4.59 ERA in 64 2/3 innings combined with Toronto and Houston.
With Sanchez out of the picture and Gerrit Cole in free agency, the Astros are looking to add one and possibly two starting pitchers this offseason. Their ’20 rotation will be headlined by 2019 AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and McCullers. Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Rogelio Armenteros and Francis Martes should also be in the mix for a rotation spot, and the Astros are hoping next season sees top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley put it all together and reach Houston.
Still, the Astros are in the market to add a veteran arm to the rotation to help replace Cole, who’s likely to sign elsewhere after finishing second in the AL Cy Young race to Verlander.