Keuchel, Springer sign, avoid ar­bi­tra­tion

Houston Chronicle - - BASEBALL - Jake Ka­plan

The Astros set­tled Fri­day on salaries for this sea­son with three of their seven ar­bi­tra­tion-el­i­gi­ble play­ers, in­clud­ing two fran­chise cor­ner­stones in start­ing pitcher Dal­las Keuchel and out­fielder Ge­orge Springer.

Start­ing pitch­ers Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers, re­liever Will Har­ris and in­fielder Mar­win Gon­za­lez re­mained un­signed af­ter Fri­day’s dead­line for teams and the agents of ar­bi­tra­tion-el­i­gi­ble play­ers to ex­change de­sired salary fig­ures. Cases that aren’t set­tled in the com­ing weeks are heard in Fe­bru­ary by a three-per­son panel, which de­cides on one side’s pro­posed num­ber or the other’s.

Keuchel will make $9.15 mil­lion this sea­son, the penul­ti­mate year he is un­der team con­trol. The salary rep­re­sents a $1.9-mil­lion raise for the 29-year-old left­hander, whose case for a higher salary in his se­cond year of ar­bi­tra­tion el­i­gi­bil­ity was hin­dered by his re­gres­sion in 2016.

The 2015 Amer­i­can League Cy Young Award win­ner had been pro­jected by MLBTradeRu­mors. com to make $9.5 mil­lion through the ar­bi­tra­tion process, which takes into ac­count a player’s pre­vi­ous sea­sons in ad­di­tion to his most re­cent. Keuchel had a 4.55 ERA in 26 starts last year, miss­ing the sea­son’s fi­nal five weeks be­cause of a shoul­der in­jury.

Keuchel is el­i­gi­ble for one more year of ar­bi­tra­tion be­fore qual­i­fy­ing for free agency fol­low­ing the 2018 sea­son. The $7.25 mil­lion he made last year com­ing off his 20-win cam­paign set a record for a first-time ar­bi­tra­tion-el­i­gi­ble start­ing pitcher. His health and per­for­mance will be piv­otal to the Astros’ 2017 sea­son.

Springer, 27, will make $3.9 mil­lion next sea­son — his first seven-fig­ure salary but $800,000 less than MLBTradeRu­mors.com’s pro­jec­tion — in the first of the four years in which he is el­i­gi­ble for ar­bi­tra­tion.

In his first full healthy sea­son in the ma­jor leagues last year, Springer bat­ted .261 with 29 home runs and an .815 OPS. He played Gold Glove-cal­iber de­fense in right field — he was one of three fi­nal­ists for the award, won by Bos­ton’s Mookie Betts — and led the ma­jors in plate ap­pear­ances (744) while play­ing in all 162 games.

Springer — like fel­low out­fielder Jake Maris­nick — is el­i­gi­ble for four years of ar­bi­tra­tion in­stead of the typ­i­cal three be­cause of his Su­per Two sta­tus, achieved by those rank­ing in the top 22 per­cent of ma­jor league ser­vice time among play­ers who have ac­crued be­tween two and three years of ser­vice.

Maris­nick, also in his first time through ar­bi­tra­tion, was the third player the Astros set­tled with Fri­day. The team’s pro­jected fifth out­fielder will make $1.1 mil­lion this sea­son, ex­actly the amount MLBTradeRu­mors.com had pro­jected the 25-yearold to re­ceive.

The Astros have gone to an ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing only once in gen­eral man­ager Jeff Luh­now’s ten­ure. It oc­curred last Fe­bru­ary, when the team won its case over catcher Ja­son Cas­tro, who made $5 mil­lion rather than the $5.25 mil­lion he sought. A week later, the team cut a deal with Evan Gat­tis on the day of the par­ties’ sched­uled hear­ing.

McHugh, Fiers and Har­ris are each in their first year go­ing through the ar­bi­tra­tion process. Gon­za­lez is ar­bi­tra­tion el­i­gi­ble for the third of four times be­cause he qual­i­fied for Su­per Two sta­tus back in 2014.

Martes among 18 in­vited to camp

Righthander Fran­cis Martes, the Astros’ top pitch­ing prospect, is among 18 mi­nor lea­guers the team has in­vited to ma­jor league spring train­ing.

Martes will be joined by Garrett Stubbs, the team’s top catch­ing prospect, and two of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s closer out­field prospects, Derek Fisher and Ra­mon Lau­re­ano.

Righthanders Edi­son Frias, Jor­dan Jankowski, Tyson Perez, Cy Sneed and Aaron West and left­handers Brian Holmes and C.J. Riefen­hauser are the other mi­nor league pitch­ers in­vited. Third base­man J.D. Davis, first base­man Jon Sin­gle­ton, util­ity in­fielder Reid Brignac, catch­ers Juan Cen­teno and Tyler Heine­man and out­field­ers Jon Kem­mer and Ale­jan­dro Gar­cia round out the po­si­tion play­ers.

Sin­gle­ton, the for­mer top prospect, was re­moved from the 40-man ros­ter in Novem­ber. He is still guar­an­teed $4.5 mil­lion over the next two years of the con­tro­ver­sial five-year, $10-mil­lion ex­ten­sion he signed in 2014.

The Astros have 28 pitch­ers and 30 po­si­tion play­ers sched­uled to at­tend big league camp. Pitch­ers and catch­ers re­port to the team’s new fa­cil­ity in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 14. The first full-squad work­out is set for Feb. 18.

Breg­man to play for U.S. in WBC

Astros third base­man Alex Breg­man will play for the U.S. in the up­com­ing World Base­ball Clas­sic, he an­nounced Fri­day via Twit­ter.

Breg­man, 22, is one of at least six Astros who will miss part of spring train­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the WBC. Jose Al­tuve (Venezuela), Car­los Cor­rea (Puerto Rico), Car­los Bel­tran (Puerto Rico), Nori Aoki ( Ja­pan) and Luke Gregerson (U.S.) were pre­vi­ously con­firmed as par­tic­i­pants in the qua­dren­nial tour­na­ment.

This will be Breg­man’s fifth time rep­re­sent­ing the U.S. The for­mer No. 2 over­all draft pick pre­vi­ously played for Team USA at the 16-and-un­der level, the 18-and-un­der level and twice while at LSU.

The U.S. opens WBC pool play March 10 against Colom­bia in Mi­ami. The Do­mini­can Repub­lic and Canada are also in USA’s pool.

The WBC runs through March 22 for the two coun­tries that meet in the cham­pi­onship. The Astros break camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 29.

Odds and ends

Ten of the Astros’ 33 sched­uled spring train­ing games will be tele­vised live by Root Sports. All but one will be broad­cast on ra­dio, with 29 games car­ried by 790 AM and the other three on 740 AM. Re­cently re­tired Bill Brown will be a guest ra­dio broad­caster for a few games dur­ing a one-week pe­riod in spring train­ing. … Mi­nor league in­fielder Nick Tanielu will miss “a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion” of 2017 af­ter hav­ing ACL re­con­struc­tion surgery on his right knee this off­sea­son, Astros as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager Mike Elias said. The 24-year-old fin­ished last sea­son in Class AA. … Mi­nor league righthander Makay Nel­son, a 22-yearold who fin­ished last sea­son in short-sea­son Class A Tri-City, was sus­pended 50 games af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for am­phet­a­mine. The ban be­gins at the start of the 2017 sea­son.

Dal­las Keuchel, from left, Ge­orge Springer and Jake Maris­nick were signed ahead of the dead­line for play­ers and teams to ex­change de­sired salary fig­ures.

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