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Arbitration panel rules $5M salary for Castro

Astros prevail in hearing against veteran catcher
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The Astros won their arbitration case against veteran catcher Jason Castro on Tuesday, when a three-person panel determined he will be paid a $5 million salary this year. Castro was seeking $5.25 million.

Castro, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has emerged as one of the game's top defensive catchers, but he slumped offensively last season and hit .211 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. He was the starting catcher for a pitching staff that was among the game's best.

HOUSTON -- The Astros won their arbitration case against veteran catcher Jason Castro on Tuesday, when a three-person panel determined he will be paid a $5 million salary this year. Castro was seeking $5.25 million.

Castro, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has emerged as one of the game's top defensive catchers, but he slumped offensively last season and hit .211 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. He was the starting catcher for a pitching staff that was among the game's best.

Castro became the first Astros player to go to an arbitration hearing since outfielder Hunter Pence won a ruling for $6.9 million prior to the 2011 season. That was the season prior to the arrival of general manager Jeff Luhnow, who attended the hearing Monday in Arizona.

"The goal is to get on the field and have a productive 2016, and Jason is now signed," he said. "The arbitration process is behind us, and we're where we wanted to be all along. I'm excited about having him on the team and excited about his contribution going forward. We're focused on winning in 2016. This is process can be rough at times, but it's a necessary part of getting a player."

Luhnow was asked about any ramifications that could arise from taking a case to arbitration over $250,000, which wasn't a substantial difference to typically warrant going to a trial.

"Any time you are critically analyzing somebody's career or year, it could lead to misunderstanding or hurt feelings. But Jason is a professional, and he understood," Luhnow said. "My sense is he understands this is what the players and the clubs have agreed to as a resource. It's not perfect, but it's worked fairly well. It's part of how we have to operate."

Meanwhile, designated hitter Evan Gattis is scheduled for an arbitration hearing Feb. 16. Gattis is seeking $3.85 million; the Astros countered with $3 million.

In his first season in Houston, Gattis set career highs in games played (153), runs (66), hits (139), triples (11), HRs (27) and RBIs (88). He became the first player since 1955 to have as many as 11 triples and not steal a base.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Houston Astros, Jason Castro