McCullers agrees to $85M deal with Astros for 2022-26

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston Astros have agreed to an $85 million, five-year contract covering 2022-26, a deal awaiting announcement by the team.

McCullers agreed on Jan. 15 to a $6.5 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration. He would have been eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.

His new agreement calls for a $3.5 million signing bonus, payable within 30 days of the contract’s approval by the commissioner’s office, and salaries of $15.25 million in both 2022 and 2023, and $17 million annually from 2024-26.

“Houston is where I want to be,” he said at spring training on Feb. 28. “This is my home. This is where I see myself. So I would undoubtedly want to be here well into the future. I think the real question would be do the Astros see me here? Do the Astros see me as part of their future? Because if the Astros see me as part of their future, as a big part of their future, then I would love to stay here if it makes sense for everyone.”

The 27-year-old McCullers returned in 2020 after missing a season following Tommy John surgery. He was 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 11 starts last season, earning $1,518,519 prorated from a $4.1 million salary.

He is expected to be one of the leaders of Houston’s rotation in 2021 with ace Justin Verlander out all year after having Tommy John surgery. The Astros also are without Framber Valdéz. who broke his left ring finger in his first spring training appearance.

McCullers is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA over seven innings in three spring training games.

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