The Astros have declined their club option on right-handed reliever Will Harris, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter). Harris’ option would’ve paid him $5.5MM had it been exercised. He won’t become a free agent, however, as he has not yet reached six year of Major League service time. As such, Harris will remain under Astros control as an arbitration-eligible player. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him at a $3.6MM salary for the coming season, so it’s not surprising to see the ’Stros decline an option that would’ve paid him a considerably larger sum.
The 34-year-old Harris still seems like a safe bet to return to the ’Stros in 2019 — albeit at a lower rate. Like Collin McHugh before him, Harris was a scrapheap pickup off the waiver wire who found great success upon landing in Houston. In four seasons with the Astros, he’s pitched to a 2.58 ERA in 237 innings and averaged 9.6 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 along the way.
His performance took a step backward in 2018, though looking past his still-solid 3.49 ERA, Harris’ 10.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.48 HR/9, 49.7 percent ground-ball rate, 13.8 percent swinging-strike rate and 34.6 percent chase rate on out-of-zone pitches were all legitimately excellent.
If and when the Astros do tender Harris a contract for the 2019 campaign, he’ll go through the arbitration process this winter and then become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.