The Astros and reliever Ryan Pressly are in agreement on a two-year, $30MM extension, per Robert Murray of FanSided. There is also a vesting option for 2025 that could take the deal up to $42MM. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Pressly will make $14MM in 2023 and 2024, along with a $2MM buyout on the 2025 option. (Twitter links) Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle relays that the $14MM option for 2025 will vest with 50 appearances in both 2023 and 2024. Pressly is represented by Scott Lonergan of the Ballengee Group.
This is the second time in Pressly’s career where he has signed an extension with the Astros while one year away from free agency. In March of 2019, the two sides agreed to a two-year extension that came with a $17.5MM guarantee, covering the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, along with a $10MM vesting option for 2022. Pressly needed to make 60 appearances in each of the 2020 and 2021 campaigns in order to vest the option, which he did. (In the shortened 2020 campaigns, all thresholds of this kind were prorated by 2.7, meaning Pressly’s 23 games were counted as just over 62 appearances.) Once again, Pressly has been locked up to keep him from hitting the open market.
As noted by Murray, this deal makes Pressly one of the highest-paid relievers in baseball and is the largest contract ever given to an Astros reliever. The fact that the Astros are willing to commit to Pressly in this way is hardly surprising based on his performance. Just months prior to the first extension, Pressly was acquired by Houston from Minnesota in a 2018 deadline deal. After the trade, Pressly took his game to new heights, something he later credited to Houston’s analytics department. As a Twin in 2018, he pitched 47 2/3 innings with a 3.40 ERA, 33.2% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate. Although those were already quality numbers, his post-trade work resulted in an ERA of 0.77 over 23 1/3 innings with a 38.1% strikeout rate and 3.6% walk rate.
Although Pressly couldn’t quite maintain the gaudy level of that small sample, he has still been one of the better relievers in the league since the signing of his previous deal. In the past three seasons, he’s logged 139 1/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA, 33% strikeout rate and 5.8% walk rate. Among relievers with at least 130 innings in that time, his ERA trails only Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader, with that strikeout rate coming in seventh and walk rate coming in sixth.
Now 33, this deal will keep Pressly in Houston through his age-35 season, and possibly for another year after that with the vesting option. For the Astros, they set a franchise record last year with a payroll of $187MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. For this season, they’ve dropped down to around $174MM, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. That’s largely due to letting certain players walk, such as Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke. When this extension kicks in next year, there could be even more payroll flexibility, as Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Jason Castro, Aledmys Diaz and Rafael Montero are all set to hit free agency. There are also various players who have options for next year, such as Justin Verlander, Jake Odorizzi, Pedro Baez and Martin Maldonado. That means that, prior to this extension, there were just four players with guaranteed contracts for the 2023 campaign: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr. and Hector Neris.
In the end, the Astros get one of the best relievers in the game for a few more years, while Pressley gets the biggest payday of his career, one that pays him like the elite pitcher he is.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.