A day after the Winter Meetings, Jeff Luhnow has struck again, picking up a third new relief option and significantly bolstering the bullpen.
Hector Rondon contract with #Astros, per source: Two years, $8.5M. Deal is official - he just passed his physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2017
Rondon, who has spent all five seasons of his Big League career with the Chicago Cubs, brings a lot of potential to the table. Utilizing a fastball averaging 97 MPH and a slider, along with two other rarely-shown offerings, Rondon spent the better part of three seasons closing for the Cubs, before working as Wade Davis’ setup man once Chicago acquired him from Kansas City.
Despite seeing his walk rate spike during the 2017 season, Rondon continued to miss bats at a high rate (career-best 10.8 K/9) and compiled a solid 3.43 xFIP in 57.1 innings of work. Considering that level of performance, an average annual value of just $4.25 million seems like a steal.
The Astros bullpen now looks like it could be a force to be reckoned with. Incumbant closer Ken Giles will now have a pair of effective former closers in Joe Smith and Rondon to bridge the gap to him, with Chris Devenski, Will Harris, and Joe Musgrove in the mix for late, tight innings. James Hoyt, Francis Martes, David Paulino, and Michael Feliz should all be in the mix for bullpen roles as well. Thanks to the signings made in the last few days, Houston now looks to sport one of the league’s deepest and most dangerous relief corps.