Though hardly a surprise, the Astros lose another veteran pitcher who provided the team with solid production throughout his tenure.
Luke Gregerson has decided to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Astros in the process lose a reliever who gave the bullpen a steady presence over the last three seasons.
Not exactly an earth-shattering departure for Houston, yet it is one less reliable option the Astros now have to fill.
The departure of Gregerson will sting. After all, the right-hander was one of the Astros best relief options in 2015 and 2016. Despite an underwhelming 2017 season — 4.57 ERA in 61 innings –, Gregerson was a veteran who provided leadership to a young club.
Was he perfect?
No, but Gregerson was exactly what the Astros needed him to be.
The 2017 postseason only reminded us that pitchers couldn’t stay perfect all the time. If they did, well, the Astros probably wouldn’t be the 2017 World Series champions.
In hindsight, Gregerson’s departure was expected. He was only in Houston one season before the team acquired Ken Giles from the Phillies. Despite an early back-and-forth on whether Giles or Gregerson would be the closer early in the 2016 season, the job would eventually go to Giles.
Regardless, Gregerson proved himself in Houston to be a capable closer when needed.
The Cardinals are a team that needed a closer. The Astros obviously did not need a closer despite a postseason meltdown by Giles. The fit that was there back in 2015 was simply not around anymore. It appears that Gregerson realized this throughout the process.
At least Gregerson can always look back on the World Series championship with fondness.
The Cardinals will sign the veteran right-hander to a two-year, $11 million contract two seasons, which also includes a vesting option. That annual salary will only be a bit less than the annual value he received from the Astros back when he signed his three-year, $18.5 million contract in December 2014.
Going forward, the Astros will likely focus on the bullpen as the Winter Meetings takes place this week in Orlando, Florida. A left-handed reliever should be high on the list along with another quality arm that can help lessen the load.
Options will abound as players look to latch on with new clubs after a slow start to the offseason. However, you can already cross Brandon Morrow off the list, as he appears to be Chicago Cub bound. Options still abound!
**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs**