Astros: Ryan Pressly’s contract affected by shortened season

Houston Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly’s contract is affected by the shortened season.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic putting the 2020 season on hold, Houston Astros relief ace Ryan Pressly was set to earn $8.75 million this season in the first year of the contract extension he signed in March of 2019. He’ll only earn the prorated portion of that now, of course, but that’s not the only change the pandemic is making to his deal.

He’ll take home $8.75 million in 2021, assuming the full season is played. The contract then had an option for 2022 that would vest at $10 million if he appeared in 60 games in both 2020 and 2021. Since this season is only 60 games total, there’s basically zero chance Pressly’s option will vest.

But fear not, Astros fans. If the option does not vest, it becomes a club option with the value tied to how many appearances he makes in 2021, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The option starts out at $7 million and increases to $8 million if he makes 30-34 appearances. It would increase to $9 million if he makes 35-39 appearances and go up to $10 million if he pitches in 40 or more games.

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So he could still make that $10 million in 2022 if he stays healthy in 2021, and if he’s anywhere close to the same effectiveness he’s had since the Astros acquired him, it should be a fairly easy decision to pick up the option. But should injury or poor performance hamper him, the team won’t be obligated to pay him top relief pitcher dollars in 2022, when he’ll be 33 years old.

Under the Radar?

There hasn’t been a great deal of chatter about Pressly lately, but he’s set up to be a key cog in the team’s bullpen again. He’s been arguably their most effective relief pitcher since he was acquired during the 2018 season, compiling a 1.85 ERA in 81 appearances with 12.1 strikeouts per nine and a microscopic 0.811 WHIP.

He was an All-Star last year but spent some time on the shelf late in the season. The Astros will certainly need him this year with Will Harris gone to the Nationals and Roberto Osuna coming off a shaky second half and postseason in 2019.

If Pressly continues mowing down hitters, he shouldn’t lose any earnings, and perhaps the Astros could extend him further. But the pandemic-shortened season means the team gets to make the decision whether to bring him back in 2022.

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