WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Going through the arbitration process was an eye-opener for Astros pitcher Collin McHugh, who will make $3.85 million this year after winning a hearing before a three-person panel on Friday. McHugh said he had no hard feelings against the Astros, who offered to pay him $3.35 million.
"It's a really important part of the collective bargaining process, not only for players, but for teams as well," said McHugh, who is the team's player representative to the union. "To be able to kind of go through it and see it firsthand, I count it as an honor. Not many guys get the chance to go through something like that. It played out the way it played out and I think we can move on and get onto baseball things, which we're really excited about. To see how the engine works from the inside, it was a really interesting process."
In the days leading up to the hearing, McHugh told his wife anything the Astros might say critical about his performance in backing up their case isn't anything he hasn't said to himself over the years.
"Both sides were fair," he said. "I thought it was a really fair hearing and good process. At that point, you can't ask for more."
McHugh has been a steady hand for the Astros since they plucked him off waivers from the Rockies on Dec. 18, 2013. Before coming to Houston, he was 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA in nine career big league starts. He's 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA in 90 starts since, including a 19-win season in 2015.
He never thought a few years ago he'd see such a big payday.
"I've been compensated at a higher level than I ever though for the last four years, so I'm not worried about it," McHugh said. "That was never an issue. At this point, anything you can make is just icing. We know that. We were in the Minor Leagues for a long time, my wife and I. We understand what living on a budget looks like, what real life looks like. This is all icing at this point."
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.