The Astros have agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Ty Buttrey, as first reported by Sam Blum of the Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll get a non-roster look in big league camp this spring.
Buttrey has pitched in parts of three MLB seasons, all of which came as a member of the Angels. His best season came in 2019, when he provided the Halos 72 1/3 innings of 3.98 ERA ball with a 27.2% strikeout rate out of the bullpen. He had a rough go during the shortened 2020 campaign, though, striking out just 16.1% of batters faced en route to a 5.81 ERA through 26 1/3 innings.
While Buttrey could’ve still factored into the MLB bullpen the next season, he stepped away from the game just before Opening Day. Buttrey noted at the time he “couldn’t help but notice that (his) love and passion for this game had started to diminish.” He sat out the 2021 campaign but made a comeback effort last winter. The Halos welcomed him back onto the 40-man roster but kept him in Triple-A Salt Lake to start the season.
The 29-year-old struggled immensely through his first couple months with the Bees. After allowing nine runs through his first 12 1/3 frames, he was designated for assignment in June. Buttrey went unclaimed on waivers and closed out the year on an outright assignment to Salt Lake. He concluded the season with a 5.94 ERA through 36 1/3 frames, posting a below-average 17.9% strikeout percentage and a hefty 13.7% walk rate. Buttrey generated grounders on half the batted balls he allowed, but he’d need to improve upon the strikeout and walk numbers to earn a big league look.
Buttrey will try to demonstrate better form in camp with the Astros. He admitted at the time of his DFA last summer he “(had) work to do to get … back to peak form” in the wake of his season away. With another offseason of preparation, he’ll look to crack a role in a strong Houston bullpen. The Astros have a number of bullpen spots sewn up, with Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Héctor Neris, Bryan Abreu, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton locked into roles if healthy. Seth Martinez figures to have the inside track at another job, while Houston could also look to integrate a left-hander into that righty-heavy mix. Buttrey joins southpaw Austin Davis as an experienced non-roster player who’ll get a look in Spring Training.