Astros: Free agent options to add left-handed relief to bullpen

DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 03: Pitcher Will Smith #13 of the San Francisco Giants throws in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - AUGUST 03: Pitcher Will Smith #13 of the San Francisco Giants throws in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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PHOENIX, AZ – APRIL 30: Relief pitcher Tony Cingrani #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on April 30, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ – APRIL 30: Relief pitcher Tony Cingrani #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on April 30, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Buy-Low Veteran Candidates

Luis Avilan is coming off a rough season with the Mets, posting a 5.06 ERA in 45 appearances. But the 30-year-old had some solid seasons prior to that, notably with the Dodgers in 2016 and 2017. He’s largely a lefty specialist but has relative youth on his side.

The 36-year-old Jerry Blevins is a prime candidate for teams looking for a true lefty specialist. Blevins is coming off a season of 3.90 ERA ball in 45 appearances spanning 32.1 innings for the Braves. He has a strong track record, although the past two seasons haven’t been up to those same standards. He could likely be had on a one-year deal.

Tony Cingrani had a peculiar season 2018 with the Dodgers. He worked to a pedestrian 4.76 ERA in 30 appearances over 22.2 innings, but Fielding Independent Pitching had him at 2.32, indicating his ERA was inflated by some poor luck and circumstances. His peripheral stats were all solid, including an impressive 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

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He missed all of 2019 due to injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in June. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training, so he could be a true bounceback candidate for whichever team picks him up.

Jake Diekman may be familiar to Astros fans from his time with the Rangers. He hasn’t enjoyed a great deal of success the past two seasons, but the 32-year-old has always posted strong strikeout totals. If the Astros think they can help him cut down on the free passes, he could have some utility for them.

The Astros actually drafted Mike Dunn in the 14th round in 2003, but he elected to go to college for a year. He’s now 34 years old, and the last three seasons haven’t been particularly kind to him after having a few solid years in Miami. This would probably be a no-risk minor league deal, which is exactly why it would be worth a shot. No risk.

Aaron Loup has some durability issues, having made just four appearances in 2019. He’ll be 32 years old next season and has shown the ability to miss bats, so he could be another candidate for a one-year deal to re-establish his value.

Chasen Shreve spent most of 2019 in Triple-A for the Cardinals, working to a 3.45 ERA in 60 innings. He had some prior success in the Yankees bullpen and he’s still just 29 years old.

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There are other names available as well, and leave it to the Astros to find a guy they like and turn his career around. There aren’t very many great options on the free agent market, but there are options nonetheless, and the team would do well to try and find a diamond in the rough to add to the bullpen.

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