The Astros’ acquisition of Brooks Raley over the summer appeared to be a mostly straightforward trade bringing a journeyman lefty to a beleaguered bullpen in exchange for a player to be named later. The 32-year-old Raley had less than a year of service time in the Majors, so it seemed as though if he stuck with the club, he’d be an affordable, pre-arbitration player moving forward. That’s not quite the case, as The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan reports that the minor league contract Raley signed with the Reds over the winter actually contains a $2MM club option for the 2021 season and allows him to become a free agent thereafter.
Raley, 32, went seven years between big league appearances, pitching for the Cubs back in 2013 and then falling off the big league radar until he was selected to the Reds’ roster early this season. He split the 2014 season between the Triple-A affiliates for the Twins and Angels and did enough to attract some interest from the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization. Raley capitalized on that first KBO opportunity, turning in 179 1/3 innings of 3.91 ERA ball in his first season — an effort which he parlayed into a successful five-year run in the KBO.
Raley didn’t impress Major League clubs enough to score the type of multi-year arrangement Josh Lindblom landed to return to the big leagues and instead took a non-guaranteed pact with the Reds. But while Cincinnati quickly moved on from Raley after just four innings, the Astros saw something they liked enough to part with a PTBNL in a seemingly minor swap. The lefty rewarded their show of faith with a 21-to-4 K/BB ratio and a 3.94 ERA over 16 frames out of the Houston bullpen. He went on to pitch in six postseason games, holding opponents to a pair of runs on four hits and five walks with nine punchouts in 5 2/3 innings.
All told, Raley pitched 21 2/3 innings with the ’Stros between the regular season and the playoffs. In that time he worked to a 3.74 ERA with 30 strikeouts against nine walks. As Kaplan notes in his column, Raley’s performance makes the club’s decision on that $2MM option a pretty simple “yes” — particularly when looking at the glut of unproven rookies on which they were forced to rely in 2020.
Looking ahead, if Raley can maintain his strong showing over the course of a full season in 2021, he’d position himself for a much more lucrative free-agent deal in the 2021-22 offseason. He’d be heading into his age-34 campaign, so a multi-year pact is plenty feasible. At present, there’s a pretty thin class of lefty relievers projected to reach the open market that offseason, headlined by Andrew Miller (who’ll be heading into his age-37 season) and also including Alex Claudio and Adam Morgan. There will surely be some one-year deals this winter that add to that group, and some names could take unorthodox paths to reaching the market, as we’re currently seeing with Raley.
If Brooks Raley is still going to be a big part of the 21′ plans in Houston, then Houston has a problem. I don’t mind him as a back of the pen guy (Like, very far in the back of the pen), but if he’s an instrumental part of the pen in 21′, then that pen is still going to be bad next season. I like Scrubb, Pressly, Paredes, but they need more relievers, and hopefully Click realizes that and also has a route to fixing that. Maybe they’ll trade for a starter and a reliever in the same deal? Who knows, but what’s out there now, ain’t working.
Yeah, I agree. I like him as the last guy in the pen but I’m not sure that’s worth $2 million. I’m not sure it’s a guarantee they pick up that option.
They need a new closer so they can move Pressly back to the 8th. Then they can use Paredes/Taylor/Scrubb in the 6th/7th if they need to.
So with that said, I would rather them us that 2 million and Osuna’s salary and bring in a closer.
I wonder if they’d be up for inter-divisional trades? The Rangers have Rafael Montero (who won’t be on their next contending team), but I think they could seriously trade him to Houston. Yes, I bring up his name a lot, but I feel like he could be a serious option for y’all. And yes… Lance Lynn. It makes sense, but I just wonder if they would pull the trigger on a inter-divisional deal.
BTW, Montero’s line is inflated one bad outing he had, but he stayed around a 2.30 era most of the season for us.
Why would the rangers make that trade? Montero stats are above average so it would be giving him away?
Well, what would we get in return? If we could trade two players we don’t need anymore for a package surrounding Bryan Abreu, or we somehow pry Whitley away from them as the lone prospect in the deal, then it would be a win for us and a win for them.
Oddly enough, the only team Lynn struggled against this season was Houston. If they weren’t in our division this season, he would’ve probably been a lock for 2nd in the Cy Young.
if he can repeat this year’s performance or even come close then he’s well worth the $2 million. if he can’t well $2 million is a small amount lo risk
Missing a pretty significant name from this discussion : Roberto Osuna.
Osuna has avoided TJ surgery, for now, and certainly could be part of the bullpen mix next season. That would leave Houston with a serviceable backend of Paredes, Pressly, and Osuna, which a far cry from a bullpen in tatters.
Peart of the game
Also, Brooks Raley had been a very good starting pitcher in the KBO over that five year stretch you mentioned in the article so maybe Raley is also extra starting rotation depth in spring training. He’d likely be behind Greinke, Valdez, McCuthers Jr, Javier, Uruquidy, and others in the depth chart.
The headline sounded more positive than the actual content.
Andrew Miller’s option for 2021 vested, so he won’t be heading into free agency.
I think Sean Doolittle is a pending free agent lefty, although he may just re-sign with the Nationals.
Interesting they would pay him