Sometimes when a waiver claim is made, that player doesn’t amount too much in the long run. The Houston Astros have struck gold three times recently claiming Collin McHugh, Tony Sipp, and Will Harris in the past several seasons. Sometimes someone else’s trash is someone else’s treasure, as the Astros were on the wrong end of a waiver claim as they tried to clear J.D. Martinez through waivers to remove him from the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, the Astros lost him to the Detroit Tigers. Martinez has since become a staple in the lineup and an All-Star.
Sipp has become a staple in the Astros bullpen himself and was a big reason that the Astros played so well down the stretch and into the playoffs. Sipp was pitching in the minors for the San Diego Padres, but they wanted to let Sipp get a better chance somewhere else. They put Sipp on waivers, and the Astros had the first opportunity to claim him, which they did. They needed a reliable left-handed pitcher as Kevin Chapman was not doing what was needed. Sipp immediately became the lefty specialist for the Astros but demonstrated the ability to become more than that.
Let’s take a look at the stats via Fangraphs on Sipp’s two seasons with the Astros.
The strange thing about Sipp’s season was that his batting average against increased against lefties and righties in 2015 from 2014, but he was able to strand more of them on base in 2015 to limit the damage. That’s what Sipp was exactly able to do for the most part in the playoffs. He earned the trust of Astros manager A.J. Hinch as one of the key set up guys in 2015. It’s hard to find comparisons with left-handed relievers, so I will use the following players contracts before the 2014 season via ESPN free agent tracker.
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Matt Thorton (Yankees) – two years at $7 million. ($3.5 per season)
Boone Logan (Rockies) – three years at $16.5 million. ($5.5 per season)
While that’s just two players, I thought it was a good representation of the range of what to expect for a lefty non-closing reliever. Sipp has a proven track record over the past two seasons with the Astros to get more than a one-year deal. Keep in mind, the Astros will face competition from other teams in retaining Sipp’s services, so that might jack his price up. I’m going to predict that most teams will offer a similar salary per year for Sipp, but the Astros might be willing to make it a three to a four-year deal to beat the other guys.
My prediction: Astros sign Sipp for three years and $12 million dollars with a fourth-year option.
Here is a quote from Sipp from Evan Drellich’s article Astros weigh options of free-agents-to-be.
"“(That will) probably hit me once I’m packing up my locker in Minute Maid, with it potentially being the last, but I really hope it isn’t,” Sipp said. “‘Cause I want to come back. I definitely feel like this is home for me. And it’s definitely been — I’ve had special seasons here, whether it’s personal or for the team. 2014 it was more of a personal thing. This year, it’s a special team. So I just hope from a selfish standpoint I come back, and contribute the same thing next year.”- Sipp via Drellich."
That contract would run through when Sipp will be 35 or 36-years-old. The Astros gave Sipp another chance after the Padres didn’t even give him a chance. Hopefully, he likes Houston and wants to stay, or else he could be gone with another team outbidding the Astros. While it was good that he and Colby Rasmus had good postseasons, it may have outpriced them for the Astros.
I think Sipp understands what is going on in Houston and might want to ride the ‘Crush City’ train as long as he can. It will be disappointing if the Astros are unable to retain him. Come back to Houston Tony!