Brandon Backe, Tim Byrdak, Geoff Geary, Humberto Quintero and Wandy Rodriguez filed for arbitration yesterday. So now what'll happen is the Airing of Salary Grievances for their one-year deal by January 20 - that'd be Tuesday. Both sides will exchange numbers and negotiate from there. If they can't come up with a number agreeable to the two parties by February 1, then the case will go to an arbiter.
The panel will use service time, performance and the salaries of similar players as a benchmark for determining which side is fair - and it's one or the other, there's not a middle point.
The Astros don't have a history of allowing these cases to get to the arbitration hearing, though Easy Eddie took Valverde and Loretta to arbitration last year - and won both cases. Before that, as Alyson Footer reports, 1997 was the last time the Astros went to an arbitration hearing.
Here were the players' 2008 salaries:
Geary - $1.125 million
Backe - $800,000
Byrdak - $712,500
Rodriguez - $451,000
Quintero - $405,000