HOUSTON -- The Astros face their first big decision of the offseason Friday, when they must decide whether or not to tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players.The World Series champions have nine players eligible for salary arbitration for 2018, and most of them will be tendered a contract before
HOUSTON -- The Astros face their first big decision of the offseason Friday, when they must decide whether or not to tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players.
The World Series champions have nine players eligible for salary arbitration for 2018, and most of them will be tendered a contract before the 7 p.m. CT Friday deadline, which means they will be under contract for next year at a salary to be determined. Among those are pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Ken Giles and Lance McCullers and outfielders George Springer and Jake Marisnick.
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Starter Mike Fiers, who wasn't on the postseason roster, is a candidate to be non-tendered, which would make him a free agent. Evan Gattis, who served as designated hitter and catcher last season, could also be non-tendered, though it wouldn't be a surprise if the Astros kept him. Houston could trade either player before Friday's deadline, or even after the deadline if it tenders those players a contract.
Fiers, 32, made $4.085 million last season and could command close to $6 million in arbitration next season -- a price the Astros likely won't pay considering his 2017 performance and their starting pitching depth. Fiers went 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA in 29 games (28 starts), giving up 32 home runs in 153 1/3 innings.
But when the Astros had several starters on the disabled list, Fiers went 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 10 starts from May 30-July 21. He faltered late in the year and was left off the playoff roster.
Gattis, 31, batted .263 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 300 regular-season at-bats while serving as a backup to catcher Brian McCann and splitting time at designated hitter. He started 47 games at catcher and 29 at designated hitter, and he played just 84 games due to a pair of DL stints.
The Astros are trying to upgrade the catching position defensively, which means Gattis could be limited to DH duties next season. Considering he could make close to $7 million, Houston could try to trade him and take advantage of his value while moving his contract.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.