HOUSTON -- Coming off a season in which he set a career high with 32 home runs, including a club-record 19 at catcher, Evan Gattis said he will return to the Astros next year to make $5.2 million after the club picked up his 2017 option on Friday.
Gattis, who is under contract with the Astros through 2018, would have made more than $5.2 million had he gone to arbitration, making the decision to pick up his option an easy one for the Astros. He made $3.2 million in 2016 and hit .251 with 72 RBIs and an .826 OPS in 128 games split between catcher and designated hitter.
"I'm excited to be back," Gattis told MLB.com.
Meanwhile, the Astros traded veteran relief pitcher Pat Neshek to the Phillies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. The Astros had to decide whether to pick up Neshek's $6.5 million option for 2017 or pay him a $500,000 buyout, and they wound up working out a trade. The Phillies picked up the option.
"I'm going to miss all the guys, especially in the bullpen," he told MLB.com. "That was a good group of guys. You live with these guys for two years, and you pick up and go and it's very sad. I think it's going to be great. I'm going to have a lot better opportunity with the Phillies than with the Astros."
Gattis, 30, began the season on the disabled list following hernia surgery and came on strong in the second half, hitting .288 with 19 homers, 36 RBIs and a .951 OPS after the All-Star break. He increased his value by returning to catcher last season, batting .295 with 19 homers and 41 RBIS in 55 games and throwing out 13 of 28 basestealers.
The Astros are in the market for a starting catcher next season, with Gattis likely again serving in the backup-catcher/designated-hitter role. Veteran Jason Castro is a free agent and could return, but the Astros could take a look at free agents Matt Wieters or Wilson Ramos. They also figure to be suitors for Yankees catcher Brian McCann, a left-handed bat who could be on the trade market with the emergence of rookie Gary Sanchez.
Neshek, 36, made 126 appearances out of the Astros' bullpen over the last two seasons, posting a 5-8 record with a 3.36 ERA and 94 strikeouts. His role diminished this year, as manager A.J. Hinch used him primarily to get right-handers out.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.