WEDNESDAY, 7:12pm: Williams gets a $2.1MM guarantee and can make an additional $1MM in incentives, tweets Cotillo. The incentives are tied to both games pitched and innings pitched, Drellich reports (Twitter links), so Williams has a chance at extra money whether he's a starter or a reliever.
MONDAY, 2:00pm: Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros signed Williams to be a starting pitcher.
1:40pm: The Astros have agreed to terms with right-hander Jerome Williams, pending a physical, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Williams is a client of Full Circle Sports Management.
Williams, 32, posted a 4.57 ERA in a career-high 169 1/3 innings for the Angels last season. The ground-ball specialist and veteran swingman made a career-high 25 starts, averaging 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 while posting a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate — a slight departure from his career mark of 48.6 percent. The Astros will look to improve Williams' bloated home-run rate and struggles to strand baserunners — two areas in which he's been considerably below the league average since making his return to the Majors with the Angels.
The Angels elected to non-tender the big righty rather than pay his projected arbitration salary of $3.9MM. Williams has five year, 49 days of service time, meaning he does not have any years of arbitraion eligibility left and will therefore be a free agent upon completion of his one-year contract with Houston.
The former supplemental-round pick (No. 39 overall by the Giants in 1999) didn't throw a pitch in the Majors from 2008-10 but resurfaced with the Halos in 2011 and has posted a 4.46 ERA in 351 innings in that time. During his hiatus from the Majors, Williams bounced around the minor leagues and found himself pitching in two different independent leagues before finding his way back to a big league mound.
With the Astros, he could serve as a swingman as he has with the Angels for the past three seasons, or he could compete for a spot in Houston's rotation. The Astros figure to have Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock in the rotation, with Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Harrell, Collin McHugh and Alex White among the names competing for the fifth spot (as examined over at SB Nation's Crawfish Boxes earlier this morning). Williams could open the season in the rotation and be shifted back to the bullpen should one of Houston's top prospects (e.g. Mark Appel or Mike Foltynewicz) force his way onto the big league staff.