Results tagged ‘ Darin Erstad ’

Astros face arbitration decisions

If you were the general manager of the Astros, what would you do?

The Astros have until Tuesday night to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents – a list that includes shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde, reliever LaTroy Hawkins, outfielder Jason Michaels and infielder/outfielder Darin Erstad.

Players offered arbitration have until next Monday to decline or accept the offer. If they accept, they are considered signed players and will have their salary determined through an arbitration hearing or negotiations. If they decline, they are still free to sign with the Astros or any other team.

The decision to offer arbitration has high stakes. Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins were classified as Type A free agents, which means the Astros would get draft picks if the players were offered arbitration and sign with another team. If they’re not offered arbitration and sign with another team, the Astros don’t get compensation.

If a Type A player signed with another team after being offered arbitration, the Astros would receive the signing club’s first-round draft pick in next year’s draft (assuming it’s not in the top 15 picks) and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. A Type B free agent, such as Doug Brocail, would bring only a sandwich pick.

Tejada made around $14 million last season and appears headed for a healthy pay cut on the free-agent market, which makes it seem unlikely the Astros would offer him arbitration. Valverde, who made $8 million last season, is likely headed for a raise after coming off a season in which he was 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA and converted 25 of 29 saves. He would be less likely to accept arbitration if he was offered by the Astros because he could command a higher salary in free agency.

The Astros have been in negotiations with Hawkins for weeks and are eager to re-sign him to be an option at closer if Valverde leaves. Hawkins had a base salary of $3.5 million last season and made nearly $4 million in incentives and was 1-4 with 11 saves and a 2.13 ERA.

Here’s what I would do:

Jose Valverde: Offer arbitration. He’ll have some strong interest and will likely get a multi-year deal from somebody, so I think it’s doubtful he would accept arbitration. If he does, you have an expensive, but capable closer.

Miguel Tejada: Don’t offer. He’ll get nowhere near the kind of money in the free-agent market than he would in arbitration, which he would accept in a heartbeat. If he wants to come back, it will have to be at a discount. The Astros can’t afford paying a third baseman $14 million next year.

LaTroy Hawkins: Offer arbitration. Sure, he’ll get a raise, but the Astros need the Hawk, especially if Valverde bolts. If he accepts and becomes the closer, he’ll still likely make less than Valverde did in closer’s role last season.

Jason Michaels: Don’t offer. I think the Astros should re-sign him, but I don’t expect there to be a big market for him and he’s not going to bring compensation anyway.

Darin Erstad: Don’t offer. Erstad is one of my favorite guys, but how much does he have left?

 

Dissecting the Astros and arbitration/free agency

The free agent filing period began Thursday, with outfielder/infielder Darin Erstad, outfielder Jason Michaels and pitcher Mike Hampton filing for free agency. Shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde and reliever LaTroy Hawkins are expected to file in the coming days.

The Astros have a 15-day exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents and are hoping to get something done soon with Hawkins. Tejada and Valverde will certainly test the free agency waters.

Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins have been classified by the Elias Sports Bureau as Type A free agents, which means simply they are among the best in baseball at their positions. It also means the Astros could receive an additional first-round draft pick next year if they offer them arbitration and they wind up signing with another team.

Of course, offering arbitration is tricky. Tejada made roughly $15 million last season, so if they offer him arbitration and he accepts, he could wind up making a ton of money after leading the team in hits and driving in 86 runs. But if they don’t offer Tejada arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they get nothing.

The same is true with Valverde, who made $8 million last year and is likely headed for a raise. If the Astros offered arbitration to both Valverde and Tejada and they both accept, they could make a combined $25 million next year. That would put a choke hold on the payroll. Houston already owes Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui a combined $54.5 million next year, and several players are due for large raises in arbitration.

“We have to keep our eye on both balls,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We have to pay attention to the short term, and if there’s a free agent out there we feel we can’t walk past and is costs us a draft pick then we have to deal with that. At the same time, there’s nothing more valuable to the overall long-term picture than draft picks.

“Whether it’s sacrificing draft picks or picking up additional draft picks by offering salary arbitration and run the risk of having the player accept, we have to evaluate the different variables involved. When it comes down to it, if there’s a Major League free agent we think we can’t live without and we have a chance to sign them and them are faced with losing a second-round pick in the process.”

Elias ranks all Major League players numerically based on their stats from the last two years. The players are grouped by five positions by league – first base/outfield, catcher, second base-shortstop-third base, starting pitching and relief pitching. The top 20 percent at each position are considered Type A free agents, and the next 20 percent are Type B.

Teams that lose a Type A free agent receive the first-round draft pick from next year’s First-Year Player Draft from the signing team (provided it’s not in the Top 15) in addition to a supplemental pick between the first and second round. Teams losing a Type B free agent receive a supplemental pick, with the signing team keeping its draft choice.

The good news for the Astros is their pick in next June’s First-Player Draft is in the first half of first round (No. 8), so they will keep their first-round pick even if they sign a Type A free agent. They would give up their second-round pick instead of their first-round pick in that case.

Teams have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents, and the players have until Dec. 7 to decide if they’re going to accept.

In case you’re wondering, Randy Wolf is a Type A free agent.

Players can file for free agency today

Beginning today, players eligible for free agency can start filing. For the Astros, that list includes Darin Erstad, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Michaels, Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde, who has already said he’s going to test the free-agent waters. Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton are also eligible, but Boone could retire and Hampton’s career appears to be done.

Those eligible for free agency have 15 days to file and their former team has exclusive negotiating rights for that period. Players are free to talk to other teams, but they can’t talk about contract offers in terms of dollars without risking tampering.

The Astros could sign either of their own free agents, just as they did last week with Geoff Blum. They’re in talks with Hawkins and hope to re-sign him. Michaels could also return, but the big names are Tejada and Valverde. I see Valverde’s price being too high for the Astros, and I don’t envision Tejada returning. It all depends on what kind of market there is for Tejada and whether he wants to take a large pay cut and play third base.

Those looking at possible free agents for the Astros down the road? The Dodgers have declined the option of Jon Garland, who went a combined 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA between Arizona and the L.A. Dodgers. The Astros made a run at him a couple of years ago and could do so again.

 

Astros line up pitching after All-Star break

Wandy Rodriguez, and not Roy Oswalt, will get the ball to start the second half of the season Thursday in Los Angeles, manager Cecil Cooper said Saturday. Cooper wants to give Oswalt an extra day of rest to recover from the bone bruise on two of his fingers, an injury he suffered swinging the bat in the sixth inning Friday.

Oswalt, who will start Friday at Dodger Stadium, said Saturday he will be ready to pitch and expects to be recovered from his injury. Mike Hampton, who was roughed up Saturday, will start Saturday at Dodger Stadium and Russ Ortiz will start the final game of the series.

Cooper said Rodriguez is staying in Houston during the All-Star break and will throw a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park.

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In case you missed it, the Astros claimed catcher Chris Coste off waivers on Friday. Coste, who spent 11 years in the Minor Leagues, including five in independent ball, broke in with the Phillies in 2006 and last year won a World Series ring. Wearing No. 41, he saw his first action for the Astros in the seventh inning Saturday.

The addition of Coste makes the Astros the first team in the Majors to have two players born in North Dakota on the roster at the same time. Coste was born in Fargo, N.D., and Darin Erstad is from nearby Jamestown, N.D. Those in Jamestown upset that it was reported their favorite son was from Fargo should take note that Erstad was quick to remind a reporter of his real hometown and urged everyone to refrain from writing letters. 

 

 

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