Wandy Rodrigquz lost his arbitration hearing with the Astros today. He will be paid $5 million in 2010 instead of the $7 million he was seeking.
I was a little surprised Wandy lost, because he really was one of the best starters in the NL last year. His 205.2 IP was good for 15th in the NL, his 14 wins was tied for 12th, his 193 Ks was tied for 8th and his 3.02 ERA was 9th.
Wandy was pretty clearly at the bottom end of the ten best starters in the NL last season. Going into his sixth full season in 2010, I thought that his performance last year, not to mention his steady progress since coming up in 2005, was worth $7 million in 2010.
However, Wandy only earned $2.65 million in 2009, and the arbitration panel may have decided that an 89% raise to $5 million was enough.
You have to figure that Wandy going to arbitration and losing means that it will be tough for the Astros to resign him once he becomes a free agent. However, the Astros may not care.
According to mlbtraderumors.com, Wandy does not become a free agent until after the 2011 season. He’ll be 32 in 2011, which militates against him being a prize free agent that off-season. In the meantime, holding Wandy to $5 million this year may well hold down his reasonable salary expectations for 2011.
Also, Wandy is a small left-hander (he’s listed as 5′11″ and 193 lbs), and his arm may not have more than a couple of seasons left as a top of the rotation starter.
On the other hand, as noted above, Wandy has steadily improved in his major league career, and in 2009, he was a terrific starting pitcher. If he’s just hitting his stride, the Astros may one day regret going to arbitration with him yesterday.