Utilityman Mauricio Dubón goes to salary arbitration with Houston Astros

Utilityman Mauricio Dubón goes to salary arbitration with Houston Astros
Dubon played great during Jose Altuve's absence last season. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Houston utilityman Mauricio Dubón and New York Mets right-hander Phil Bickford went to salary arbitration hearings Monday.

Dubón asked for a raise from $1.4 million to $3.5 million and the Astros argued for $3 million in a case heard by John Woods, Jeanne Charles and Janice Johnston.

Bickford requested an increase from $740,000 to $900,000, and the Mets said he should be paid $815,000 in a case heard by Robert Herzog, Margaret Brogan and Stephen Raymond.

Decisions are expected Tuesday in those cases along with those of Baltimore outfielder Austin Hays and right-hander Jacob Webb and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward, which were argued last week.

The 29-year-old Dubón hit .278 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in his first full season with Houston, which acquired him from San Francisco in May 2022.

Bickford, a 28-year-old reliever, was 5-5 with a 4.95 ERA in 61 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mets, who acquired him on Aug. 1.

Teams won the first two decisions of the year, beating Miami outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. ($2,625,000 vs. $2.9 million) and Angels left-hander José Suarez ($925,000 instead of $1.35 million).

Eleven more players are scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 16.

Toronto star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the most high-profile case, asking for $19.9 million as the Blue Jays offered $18.05 million. If the case doesn’t settle, it would be the highest salary awarded in arbitration win or lose, topping the $14 million Seattle outfielder Teoscar Hernández received after he lost his hearing last year.

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Cristian Javier is in better shape this season. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.

Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).

Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.

But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.

In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.

Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.

The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.

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