Avoiding arbitration hearing would benefit all
The last thing the Astros want to do is sit down before an arbitration panel next month and try to explain why Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez aren’t worth the money they’re asking. Pence and Rodriguez are pros, but feelings can and often do get hurt and during the process.
Astros general manager Ed Wade, like he’s done each season since he took over as GM, has set his own deadline of close of business next Tuesday to work out deals with Pence and Rodriguez.
“The spreads are fairly significant and our hope still is that we can get something done, preferably on a multi-year basis with Wandy and would to get Hunter done as well,” Wade said. “The spreads are significant and there’s a lot of ground to cover.”
Rodriguez, who went 11-12 with a 3.60 ERA last year, is asking for $10.25 million, which is substantially more than the Astros’ offer of $8 million. He lost his arbitration case last year and had to settle for $5 million after asking for $7 million.
Pence, named the team’s Most Valuable Player after hitting .282 with 25 homers and 91 RBIs last year, is asking for $6.9 million, with the Astros countering at $5.15 million. Pence made $3.5 million last year in his first year of arbitration.
You can bet Wade and arbitration expert Tal Smith will have done extensive homework to try to continue their strong success rate of winning cases.
Pence is asking to nearly double his salary, but the Astros don’t want to go that far. The Astros were able to settle with Pence last year, but the gap was only $1 million. Rodriguez’s gap is $2 million more than his gap of last year, and the fact he’s a free agent after 2011 should compliate negotiations.
The Astros are willing to considering signing Rodriguez to a long-term deal, but you can’t help but wonder if Rodriguez’s poor start had something to do with losing his arbitration case. He was 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA in his first 14 starts before going 8-2 with a 2.03 ERA in his final 18 starts.
Had Rodriguez pitched like that all season, he would have gotten a huge raise and perhaps would have a long-term deal by now. The fact is he remains inconsistent and at 32 years old is approaching the ideal time for him to put everything together if he really wants to cash in.