Astros Offseason

What Astros arbitration means for the future of George Springer

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images, Composite by Brandon Strange

Ahead of Friday night's arbitration deadline, the Astros reached 1-year agreements with four players: Carlos Correa ($8 million), Roberto Osuna ($10 million), Chris Devenski ($2 million), and Brad Peacock ($3.9 million) per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The biggest news came from their failure to reach an agreement with outfielder George Springer. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Springer is seeking $22.5 million, which is $10.5 million more than his salary last year and $5 million more than the $17.5 million offered by the Astros. It's the biggest gap of all of this year's arbitration cases across MLB. The parties now appear to be headed to a hearing in February to determine Springer's salary in what is his final year of team control.



Houston also failed to reach an agreement with infielder Aledmys Diaz. The gap is not as big with Diaz ($600k difference) and more importantly, the stakes aren't as high as they are with Springer.

Springer, in a sense, should be a free agent this offseason. Back at the start of the 2014 season, though, George declined an extremely team-friendly contract. After failing to lock Springer into a multi-year deal, the Astros responded by manipulating his service time. By tethering him to the minor leagues just a few days into the season, the team was able to maintain control of his contract for an additional year. Dissatisfied by the move, Springer and his (then) representation explored filing a grievance through the MLBPA.

It's worth noting a couple things. First, this is standard practice in MLB. Second, it was a shrewd, bad-faith, punitive move by a cunning front office.

Springer and the Astros went on to achieve the sort of on-field success that helps rinse away the bitter taste of business. Both sides avoided arbitration in 2018 by agreeing to a 2-year, $24 million contract. The deal seemed to be a sign that the two parties were back on the same page.

This time around, the parties aren't close.

It begs the question: will George Springer have a future with the Astros beyond 2020? It's hard to imagine the current iteration of the Astros without their fan-favorite centerfielder. From the iconic 2014 Sports Illustrated cover, to his eventual World Series MVP in 2017, Springer is a cornerstone of Houston's success. But the business doesn't much account for nostalgia, fandom, or loyalty. Houston does not have unlimited resources and already carries a top-10 payroll.




The Astros unapologetically made the best business decision for themselves in 2014. George Springer will be in a position to do the same in 2021. For the record, the Astros haven't won an arbitration hearing since 2016. Springer has a reasonable shot at getting his asking price. There's also a fair chance this is the last time the Astros pay it. Each a victim of their own success, Springer and the Astros are nearing the point at which they can no longer afford the other.

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TEXAS A&M VS. ALABAMA PREVIEW

Heading to Tuscaloosa, the Aggies are on a slippery slope

Alabama is up next for the Aggies. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

One step forward, two steps backward. That's how it has felt to be a Texas A&M football fan for the past 2 seasons. After a disappointing 2021 season which saw the Aggies as a preseason #7, only to wind up with an 8-4 record, the Maroon and White entered 2022 fresh off a #1 recruiting class and a preseason #6 ranking. Only five weeks into the season, the Ags are headed for another step backward after a lackluster performance against Mississippi State. Even after the loss to App State, there was still hope that A&M could right the ship in SEC play. However, after a trip to Starkville, the Aggies look on track to have their worst season in over a decade.

A&M struggled in Starkville, to say the least. They were shut out in the first half, special teams struggled, Max Johnson was getting abused behind a bad offensive line performance and the defense had their worst performance of the season. Mississippi State was the better team for the entire 60 min. If you’re Texas A&M and headman Jimbo Fisher trying to propel your program to the level of Alabama and Georgia in the SEC, you must beat teams like the Bulldogs. But every year under Fisher a team that Texas A&M is more talented than always seems to get the better of them. After yet another disappointing SEC loss, the Ags have more problems and questions it seems now than after the week two App State loss.

The biggest issue facing the Aggies in my opinion is the offense. It has been anemic all season long, ranking dead last in the SEC in total offense and 105th in the nation. Here in College Station, much of the conversation has been around Jimbo and his play calling. Much has been made about how complex his offense is and the many wrinkles and details his quarterbacks need to learn to be successful in it. My question is why? Why does it have to be so complicated? Why do his plays require such a level of execution that if one of the eleven men on the field misses an assignment, then it is doomed? In college football, it seems like the most prolific offenses are simple, straightforward and easy for the players to understand. This allows them to play with freedom and looseness to make plays. I am not saying I know anything more than Jimbo, trust me, but I do think a change on the offensive side is in order. Whether that means Jimbo changes his philosophy and system that he runs or if it means bringing in a new offensive coordinator to redefine his offense a la Nick Saban in 2014.

Speaking of Nick Saban, things don’t get easier for the falling Aggies as they travel to Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday for the much-anticipated rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately for Texas A&M, they’ll be without starting QB Max Johnson most likely, as he could be out with a hand injury. That means they will once again turn to Haynes King for a spark. King has been extremely turnover prone throughout his collegiate career, and for the Aggies to once again pull off the upset over Bama, King will need to limit turnovers. It will take a lot more to go right for the Aggies to hang into this game, but I expect this one to get ugly. The Crimson Tide handle business with a 45-14 win over Texas A&M.

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