The Astros are interested in Joe Thatcher and a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that he believes Houston will sign the veteran left-hander to a minor league contract. Another source says no deal is done, though it could be close, as an agreement could be completed “probably [by] tomorrow.”
Over ten teams have shown interest in Thatcher this winter and he’s close to deciding on his new team, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported earlier today. Houston was cited as one of the teams most interested in Thatcher’s services, along with the Athletics, Rangers and Mets. Given all of this interest, it would be somewhat surprising to see Thatcher settle for a minor league deal given his track record.
Thatcher, 33, posted a 3.34 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 2.89 K/BB rate over 207 2/3 innings with the Padres and Diamondbacks from 2007-13. He was pitching particularly well for Arizona last season (a 2.63 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and a sterling 8.33 K/BB rate over 30 1/3 IP) before being dealt to the Angels in July, and that’s when Thatcher’s season took a turn for the worse. He struggled to an 8.53 ERA in only 6 1/3 innings for Anaheim as he spent over a month on the DL with a sprained ankle and didn’t even make the Halos’ postseason roster.
Signing Thatcher would further reinforce an Astros bullpen that has already added Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson this winter. The relief corps could be further bolstered by one or several of Houston’s young arms that don’t win the fifth spot in the starting rotation.