The Astros are signing free-agent reliever Ryne Stanek, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. It’s a one-year deal, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Stanek will earn $1.1MM, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The right-hander is a client of MVP Sports Group.
The 29th overall pick of the Rays in 2013, Stanek made his major league debut four years later and gave the club especially good production from 2018-19. He was one of the Rays’ go-to opener options then, starting 56 games in 100 appearances, and managed a 3.17 ERA with a 28.9 percent strikeout rate and a 9.6 percent walk rate in 122 innings. However, the Rays moved on from Stanek when they sent him to the Marlins in a 2019 trade deadline deal that delivered stud reliever Nick Anderson to Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately for Miami, Stanek wasn’t able to maintain his effectiveness in its uniform. The 29-year-old had a rough season in 2020, when he threw 10 innings of 7.20 ERA ball with almost as many unintentional walks (eight) as strikeouts (11) and saw his average fastball dip from the 98 mph range to 96. The Marlins then non-tendered Stanek in lieu of paying him a projected $800K in arbitration.
The Astros could control Stanek through 2023 via arbitration, so this might be more than a one-year union between the two. And Astros general manager James Click, who was part of the Rays’ front office when they drafted Stanek and saw him flourish a few years later, is quite familiar with the hurler.
Stanek will now join a Houston bullpen that ranked a middle-of-the-pack 15th in ERA a season ago. The Astros have since lost relievers Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to free agency, and while none played big roles in 2020, the team has been looking to address its relief corps to a notable degree this winter. In fact, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweeted Thursday that the Astros want more than one reliever and have interest in free agents Brad Hand and Trevor Rosenthal (along with the previously reported Liam Hendriks and Alex Colome). With that in mind, they probably aren’t done after the Stanek acquisition.