Arbitration takes a bite out of payroll

With left-hander Wandy Rodriguez set to go to an arbitration hearing Feb. 17, the toll the Astros’ eight arbitration-eligible players had on the payroll can nearly be finalized. Not counting Rodriguez, the seven arbitration players who signed will make a combined $11.84 million in 2010, which represents an $8.069 million payroll hike.

If Rodriguez wins his case, those numbers increase to $18.84 million and $13.569 million, and if he loses it’s still $16.84 million and $11.569 million. As you can see, an extra $11.6 million dollars being added to the payroll was one of the Astros’ biggest issues of 2010. In essence, they were spending enough extra money to sign a top-notch free agent without actually adding that player.

And with the payroll being cut from last year’s team-record $107 million, general manager Ed Wade had a tough task. Jose Valverde turning down arbitration was a huge plus and gave Wade the payroll flexibility he needed to make the deals he did. The Astros had already projected that the arbitration players would be taking much of that payroll flexbility already.

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