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Springer, Astros have 2020’s widest arb gap

Houston reaches deals with 4 of 6 arbitration-eligible players
@brianmctaggart
January 10, 2020

HOUSTON -- The Astros appear to be headed to an arbitration hearing with star outfielder George Springer, who is asking for a $22.5 million salary for 2020, while the Astros countered with an offer of $17.5 million, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The $5 million gap is a sizable

HOUSTON -- The Astros appear to be headed to an arbitration hearing with star outfielder George Springer, who is asking for a $22.5 million salary for 2020, while the Astros countered with an offer of $17.5 million, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The $5 million gap is a sizable one and likely signals the two sides will head to an arbitration hearing early in February to determine which of the two figures he will receive. A three-time All-Star and the 2017 World Series MVP, Springer made $12 million last year. The Astros have been a “file-and-trial” team in recent years, meaning negotiations cease after numbers are exchanged.

Friday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures. The Astros came to agreements with four of their six arbitration-eligible players -- shortstop Carlos Correa ($8 million), closer Roberto Osuna ($10 million) and pitchers Brad Peacock ($3.9 million) and Chris Devenski ($2 million). They weren’t able to reach a deal with infielder Aledmys Díaz, who’s asking for $2.6 million, while the team countered with $2 million.

Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t rule out a settlement with Springer prior to a hearing. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of signing Springer to a multiyear deal.

“There’s always a chance we’ll get to an agreement before a hearing with the other two players, but there’s also a chance of a hearing,” Luhnow said. “When you get into that neighborhood with a player that’s in their last time of eligibility who’s been a good player, the number’s going to be pretty high. I’m not surprised there’s a big gap [with Springer], but we’ll be prepared if we go to a hearing, or we’ll we get something done beforehand.”

The Astros have lost five hearings in a row since the decision went their way with catcher Jason Castro in 2016. They lost to pitcher Collin McHugh in 2017 and ’18, lost to pitcher Ken Giles in ’18 and last year lost to pitcher Gerrit Cole and Correa.

The Astros avoided arbitration with Springer two years ago by agreeing to a two-year, $24 million extension. Last year, he hit .292 with 39 homers and 96 RBIs with a .974 OPS in 122 games and would have been in the MVP race had he stayed healthy. Springer is entering his final season before free agency.

The versatile Díaz was held to a career-low 57 games in 2019 due to two stints on the injured list in his first season with the Astros, hitting .271 with a .823 OPS while starting at six different positions.

Correa played in only 75 games in the regular season last year because of two significant injuries -- a recurring back injury that sidelined him from Aug. 21-Sept. 17 and a fractured rib sustained while getting a massage that put him out May 29-July 26. In 75 games, he hit .279 with a .926 OPS, 21 homers and 59 RBIs.

In his first full season as the Astros’ closer, Osuna had his patches of inconsistency, but he put up a solid season and led the American League in saves (38 in 44 chances) and was fifth in WHIP (0.88). Devenski posted a 4.83 ERA in 61 games last year.

The longest-tenured pitcher on the club, Peacock has served in various roles with the team the last few years. Last year, he began the season in the rotation before shifting to the bullpen, making two appearances on the injured list along the way. He went 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 games (15 starts).

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.