Astros strike deals with Valdez, 5 arb-eligible players

Tucker, Javier likely headed to arbitration

January 14th, 2023

HOUSTON -- The Astros were able to come to an agreement with one of their All-Star arbitration-eligible players Friday, but a sizeable gap stands between the team and a deal with another. 

Left-hander Framber Valdez, who blossomed into one of the top pitchers in the Major Leagues last season and earned his first All-Star selection, will make $6.8 million this year after agreeing to a deal to avoid arbitration. Friday was the deadline for teams to exchange numbers with their arbitration-eligible players, of which the Astros had eight.

Meanwhile, right-fielder filed for a $7.5 million salary for this season, with the Astros offering him $5 million. Tucker and the Astros can continue to negotiate, but if they can’t agree to terms then a hearing is scheduled in February. That’s when a panel of arbitrators, who, after hearing arguments from both sides, selects either the salary figure of the player or the club.

The Astros, who have yet to hire a general manager, didn’t make anyone in the front office available to comment.

Players with three or more years of MLB service but fewer than six (when they qualify for free agency) can negotiate their salaries for the upcoming season, which are primarily based on comparable players who have signed contracts in recent seasons.

The Astros were able to come to agreements to avoid arbitration with five other players: starting pitcher José Urquidy, relief pitchers , and and utility player . In addition to Tucker, they were unable to reach a deal with starting pitcher , who filed for $3.5 million, while the Astros offered $3 million.

Valdez’s deal is more than double the $3 million he made last year in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He went 17-6 with a 2.82 ERA in 31 starts, and he set a Major League single-season record by throwing 25 consecutive quality starts from April 25-Sept. 18. Valdez led the AL with 26 quality starts and 201 1/3 innings pitched, made his first All-Star team and finished fifth in AL Cy Young voting.

Tucker, in his first year of arbitration after making $764,200 last year, hit .257 with 30 homers, 107 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 150 games last year and won an AL Gold Glove. The Astros have approached Tucker about a contract extension but have yet to work one out.

Javier went 11-9 with a 2.54 ERA in 30 games (25 starts) in the regular season, holding opponents to a .170 batting average while striking out 11.74 batters per nine innings. He was dominant in the playoffs, going 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA, striking out 16 batters and allowing two hits in 12 2/3 innings.

Here are the other arbitration cases the Astros settled Friday:

RHP Phil Maton
Maton, in his final year of arbitration before free agency, will earn $2.55 million. The right-hander posted a 3.84 ERA in 67 games but missed the playoffs after breaking his pitching hand when he punched a locker on the final day of the regular season. He made $1.55 million last year.

RHP Ryne Stanek
Stanek, also in his final year of arbitration, agreed to a $3.6 million deal. The right-hander posted a 1.15 ERA in the regular season but was used for only three innings in the postseason. He made $2.1 million last year.

RHP José Urquidy
Urquidy will make $3.025 million this year after going 13-8 with a 3.94 ERA in 29 games in 2022 and reaching career highs in wins, starts (28), innings pitched (164 1/3) and strikeouts (134). The right-hander pitched in one game in the postseason last year, throwing three scoreless innings in Game 3 of the World Series. He made $748,700 last year.

IF/OF Mauricio Dubón
Dubón, who was traded from the Giants on May 14, agreed on a $1.4 million salary for 2023. He hit .214 with five homers and 24 RBIs last year while making starts at six positions. He earned $715,000 last year.

LHP Blake Taylor
Taylor, whose 2022 season was derailed by injuries, agreed to a $830,000 salary for 2023. The left-hander appeared in 19 games and posted a 3.94 ERA while battling elbow discomfort.