Right-hander Collin McHugh won his arbitration hearing against the Astros, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (on Twitter). He’ll earn the $5MM salary that he filed as opposed to the $4.55MM sum that was submitted by the team (as can be seen in MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker). McHugh, a client of Moye Sports Associates, receives a $1.15MM raise on last year’s $3.85MM salary after an injury-shortened 2017 campaign.
The 30-year-old McHugh may have lost his rotation spot when the Astros acquired Gerrit Cole earlier this winter, but he’ll still work as a starter this spring. If each of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Cole, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton remain healthy, then McHugh could open the year as a well-compensated long reliever/spot starter. He’d also be the team’s first line of defense in the event of an injury to one of the top five starters.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that McHugh opens the season in a rotation other than Houston’s. McHugh has seen his name pop up in trade rumors in recent weeks as clubs like the Orioles, Twins and Brewers continue to hunt for rotation upgrades before Opening Day.
McHugh missed much of the 2017 season on the disabled list but worked to a 3.55 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings when he was healthy enough to take the field. Since being acquired by the Astros, he’s logged a solid 3.70 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate through 606 1/3 innings (102 starts).