REPORT: Houston Astros sign Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek
The Houston Astros have signed relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek. This is according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Gregerson’s deal is for three-years, $18.5 million. He can make up to $21 million if he’s elected as Houston’s closer, something that seems in the realm of possibility. Neshek landed a two-year, $12.5 million contract. A third-year option is present in his deal.
Most recently, Gregerson spent a season as the Oakland A’s setup man. He posted a 2.12 ERA in 72 appearances. Neshek was an All-Star in 2014 with the St. Louis Cardinals. The unconventional right-hander put up a series of impressive numbers including a 1.87 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.
Houston’s bullpen issues are well-documented. After largely lacking any reliable weapons last season, they targeted Andrew Miller and David Robertson in free agency. These hurlers are difference-makers, but Houston might end up better off by not landing them. The cost of Gregerson and Neshek combined is less than the individual contracts given to Miller and Robertson.
The Astros have undergone a severe rebuild. Fellow baseball executives have questioned Houston’s approach and fans are growing eager for competitiveness. With a young, developing core in Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, the Astros have pieces to build around.
As Gregerson and Neshek come to town, maybe, just maybe, the leads built by Altuve, Keuchel and the rest of Houston’s squad won’t be blown quite like they were in 2014. Gregerson’s a proven setup man who has pitched in at least 61-80 games annually throughout his career. Neshek’s a funky matchup nightmare who gives Houston a rare weapon.
If there’s any negative spin on this, it’s Gregerson’s tendency to hang sliders. In his six MLB seasons, he’s thrown sliders roughly 56% of the time. With Houston’s comically short distance to its left field wall, Gregerson better avoid hangers. The minor knock on Neshek is durability. He’s only touched 67 or more innings twice, with his third highest single-season total being only 40.1.
Even with these aspects accounted for, Houston and its fans should applaud these signings. Both pitchers will help solidify a previously poor bullpen.
-Tyler Birss (@tybirss)