WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman told MLB.com Monday he was disappointed after having his contract renewed by the Astros at a salary of $640,500 for the 2019 season, a figure which represents a $41,500 raise from last year but which he feels is less than fair compensation.
Bregman, coming off a breakout year in 2018 in which he led the Astros in nearly every offensive category and finished fifth in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, said he told the team to renew him at the league minimum of $555,000 after they couldn't reach an agreement, and the Astros instead renewed him at $640,500.
"I'm just disappointed and I feel like I outperformed that last year," Bregman said. "I understand that it's a business, but I feel like good business would be wanting to make a player who performed at a high level on your team happy and want to feel like he wanted to be kept and feel like they wanted him to play here forever. I'm just disappointed it doesn't seem like the same amount of want."
Players who haven't signed a long-term contract extension or accrued the MLB service time necessary to be eligible for salary arbitration can have their contract renewed by their club as a one-year deal for the coming season. There's little room for negotiation and the Astros typically have put players back at the minimum if they didn't come to a contract agreement.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Bregman was given a salary based on their structure, which takes into account the quality of the previous season and the career. He said the Bregman renewal represents the second-highest pre-arbitration salary the club has ever given out, in addition to being top 10 in league history. Last year, the Astros renewed All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa for $1 million in his final year before arbitration.
The largest one-year deal given to a pre-arbitration eligible player went to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who agreed to a $1.05 million contract in 2017 -- the year after he won the National League MVP Award. The Cubs rewarded Bryant after delaying his callup two weeks into the regular season to gain an extra year of service time and push back his free agency.
"The reason we went out of our way last year for Correa is he won Rookie of the Year [in 2015] and missed Super Two by one day, and we felt like we needed to make that up to him," Luhnow said. "That was a special circumstance for a special player. Alex is a special player and we hope he's here for his entire career, and we're giving him the second-highest pre-arbitration earnings that we've ever given in history and one of the top 10 in MLB history.
"I know it's not satisfying because he's a great player and no player is ever satisfied the year before they reach arbitration with the amount the club gives them. That's just the nature of our industry right now. That's the world we operate in, and next year when he reaches arbitration, he's going to begin to get paid at the level he deserves."
Super Two players are those who rank in the top 22 percent in service time from among players who have between two and three years of service, typically two years and at least 130 days. Super Two players reach arbitration a year early.
Bregman, 24, is coming off a career season in which he hit .286 with career highs in homers (31), RBIs (103), doubles (51), walks (96), on-base percentage (.394), slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.926). He led the Astros in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks and OPS and was named the team's MVP.
Bregman was also named the MVP of the All-Star Game after hitting the game-winning homer for the AL. He's the first player in Major League history to have at least 30 homers and 50 doubles in a season while playing the majority of his games at third base.
"I feel like in the past they’ve paid players differently," Bregman said. "I just felt like I should have been compensated differently for my performance last year. I love playing for the Houston Astros and I just felt like things could have been handled differently."
When asked if the contract negotiations for 2019 could affect how he approaches any possible long-term deals, Bregman said no.
"I think this and that are two different discussions," he said. "I just want to be treated fairly for my performance."