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Astros avoid arbitration with Castro, Guzman

HOUSTON -- The Astros reached one-year deals with All-Star catcher Jason Castro and infielder/outfielder Jesus Guzman to avoid arbitration. Terms of the deals aren't known.

Friday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration numbers, and the Astros have now reached deals with both of their arbitration-eligible players. Both Castro and Guzman were first-time eligible players.

"I think it's a good deal and I'm glad that we were able to come to an agreement, and now we can just kind of shift the focus to getting ready for the season and everything that I would normally do to prepare for spring," Castro told "I'm excited and ready to get going."

Castro, 26, was among the top offensive catchers in the Majors last season, hitting .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs before landing on the disabled list Sept. 13 after having a cyst removed from his knee. His on-base percentage was .350, with a slugging average of .485. He was named to the American League All-Star team and was a two-time AL Player of the Week Award winner.

"I think it's a fair deal for both sides," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "I'm really happy to have it behind us, and now we can focus on the season ahead."

Luhnow has spoken about a willingness to sign Castro to a long-term deal down the road, but it wasn't a part of the process this year.

"We haven't actually had any discussion about that," said Castro, who likely at least quadrupled his $496,000 salary from a year ago. "We'll see what happens. I'm definitely open to anything."

The former Stanford star was picked 10th overall in the 2008 Draft and made his big league debut with the Astros in 2010, appearing in 67 games. He missed all of the '11 season after suffering a major knee injury during the spring of that year.

Astros manager Bo Porter said last month Castro would be his primary No. 3-hole hitter this year.

"Now the focus shifts back to getting ready and get throwing and getting back into catching and all that stuff," Castro said. "I'm glad to get it all in the rearview and look ahead to spring."

Guzman, 29, was acquired by the Astros from San Diego on Dec. 18, 2013, in exchange for infielder Ryan Jackson. Guzman played in 126 games for the Padres in 2013, collecting 17 doubles, nine home runs and 35 RBIs.

He started at four different positions last season, including 33 games at first base, 25 in left field, three in right field and two at third base. He was especially effective as a pinch-hitter, hitting three home runs and leading the Majors with 14 RBIs in that role.

"It's a little different [the arbitration process] than a player you drafted and developed and you really know well, but the process is really to a certain extent similar in a lot of respects, because you're talking about comparable players in this year's arbitration class and previous classes, and you're typically dealing with an agent who's done a lot of players," Luhnow said. "The only difference is we don't have quite as close a personal relationship, but that tends not to be the driving force behind those things."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Jason Castro, Jesus Guzman