Hunter Pence and the Astros wrapped up MLB’s third and final arbitration hearing of the winter earlier today, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Following the three-hour, 45-minute hearing, Astros general manager Ed Wade said that he expects the three-person panel to render a decision sometime tomorrow.
“This is part of the process we go through when you can’t reach a negotiated settlement, and now it’s all about baseball,” Wade said.
Pence filed for $6.9 million and was offered $5.15 million from the Astros when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. The 27-year-old earned $3.5 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter as a Super Two. He batted .282/.325/461 last season while slugging 25 home runs for the third consecutive year and setting career-highs with 91 RBI, 93 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
As mentioned above, we only saw three arbitration cases go to a hearing this winter, down from eight last offseason. Ross Ohlendorf won his case against the Pirates while the Angels won against Jered Weaver.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.