FRIDAY: Crain's one-year deal with the Astros is worth $3.25MM, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
TUESDAY: The Astros have signed right-hander Jesse Crain to a one-year contract, the team announced in a press release. Terms of the contract weren't disclosed. Crain is represented by Relativity Baseball.
Crain posted a 11.3 K/9, 4.18 K/BB rate and an incredible 0.74 ERA in 36 2/3 relief innings with the White Sox in 2013. These eye-popping numbers put Crain on pace for the best season of his 10-year career, but his season was cut short by a shoulder injury. Crain didn't pitch after June 29, though he was still elected to his first All-Star team. Crain was still acquired by the Rays at the trade deadline with the hopes that he would recover, but the 32-year-old never threw a pitch as a Ray.
Crain's health is still something of a question mark, as Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that Crain has yet to begin his throwing program following his surgery in October. That said, Crain passed his physical and Luhnow believes Crain is progressing well. "We're not going to rush him but we feel like he's going to be ready to go certainly early in the season if not before," Luhnow said.
As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted in his Free Agent Profile of Crain back in October, a one-year deal would help Crain re-establish his value following his shoulder injury and possibly set him up for a more lucrative multiyear contract next winter. While Crain apparently had some two-year offers on the table, he instead chose to just take a single guaranteed year in a familiar locale — Crain pitched for the University Of Houston. Luhnow said in the press release that the team "targeted [Crain] early in the offseason," so the quick push from his semi-hometown team also might've helped influence Crain's decision. The Cubs and Rockies were two of the other clubs known to be interested in Crain's services.
Astros relievers posted a league-worst 4.92 ERA in 2013, so the bullpen was obviously a major focus for Luhnow this winter. Crain joins Matt Albers and Chad Qualls as relievers the Astros have signed to Major League free agent deals, and Houston has also added Anthony Bass, Raul Valdes, Darin Downs and Peter Moylan in other moves. Luhnow told reporters (including Evan Drellich) that manager Bo Porter will decide who closes games for the club and that Crain will be in the mix, though Crain has never worked as a closer before.
Crain ranked 46th on Tim Dierkes' list of this offseason's top 50 free agents, and Tim correctly predicted that Crain would end up with the Astros.
Photo courtesy of Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports Images
Good signing Astros. Really surprised he didn’t land a multi-year deal – even one that had an option.
Wow, if he can stay healthy all season that’s an absolute steal for the Astros. He could become a big trade piece at the deadline and at the same time Crain can rebuild his value for next season. Win win for both sides.
Wow congrats Houston, you spent money on some guys you will deal off at the deadline. Way to pacify your fans
This is actually a good deal with no risk. Their bullpen was crappy last year.
Plus its not like Houston could pacify Astros fans by going out and signing people like Cano. Why? Because they had no shot at Cano. They could Tanaka since they did come in second for Jose Abreu.
Nice deal. Good job Astros. And no this is not sarcasm.
Trade at deadline? Obviously people that make those comments don’t follow the Astros. The Stros bottomed out last year and are on the ups now. I would not expect as many trades going out from now on. I would expect more trades coming back in as the team is now shifting towards winning. They already have the deepest farm in all of baseball and so trading a guy like Crain at the deadline for a C+ prospect is really not that beneficial. The team has over 20 C+ prospects in their system right now. Plus, they will begin to lose some of those guys in next years Rule 5 draft. So, if Crain starts off well and you want him for some C+ prospects, dream on. If you want to give up something substantial…well maybe we might listen.
You would rather hold onto a player on a one year contract while you roll to a 68 win season than dump him and recoup ANY value in return?
I don’t care how many C+ prospects you have. The Astros won’t be playing for anything come the All-Star break. Better to get something of value than to let the guy notch another 20 innings and leave for nothing.
After the implosion of our BP last year post Veras. ya they had better hold on to him. Especially if he’s the closer. Stocking the system can only work for so long, before there are no more open spots…
Yes the Astros are definitely playing for something. They are on the way up with one of the biggest possible arcs in baseball as far as a ceiling. They are playing to improve, they are playing to get to 70 wins. Why trade a guy who is helping a young pitching staff out and who is also young enough to stick around in his home town during the good years…for what another C+ prospect?
I don’t understand the “pacify” statement, I also don’t understand saying “the Astros will be buyers from here on out.” No. Signing a talented player to a one year team friendly deal is always smart baseball. If you’re not going to make the playoffs, you should decide whether you value what he can bring in a trade more than you value the draft pick you’d receive if he turned down a qualifying offer and signed elsewhere. That’s just simply smart baseball. If the Astros go 85-77 and miss the playoffs, it’d STILL be smart baseball to have gotten a return on your expiring contracts. A better player = a better return. Not sure how or why the Astros would be criticized for this move. Also not sure how you can say “nope, you’ll see less trades, we’re winners now.” Both are obviously wrong.
Just saying they don’t really need another C+ prospect. What they need more is progress. 70 wins in 2014 and progress towards 2015 with all the prospects coming up through the system. You can’t just trade all your guys every year at the deadline, which the Astros have done. I think 2014 is the year where you will see a shift in what they are doing.
That’s fair, I just don’t see this year being that year. Unless you’re in serious contention of winning your division, why wouldn’t you move expiring contracts for lottery tickets?
3.25 mil? I would have like the Tigers to look into signing him. Even with the injury problems and at a slightly higher price tag, he’s way less of a question mark than Joba “Gas Can” Chamberlain.