It avoids arbitration with the studly closer, but dang. Isn’t that like 15-20% of the Houston Astros’ projected 2009 payroll?

Relievers don’t have the best track record in arbitration, so Valverde opted to take a raise to $8 million after losing his case last year and settling for $4.7 million. Considering that he’s led the NL in saves two years in a row, Valverde had a decent argument for matching or exceeding Francisco Rodriguez’s $10 million salary from a year ago. He’s entering his last year of arbitration, just like K-Rod was.