Astros sign pitcher Ryne Stanek to one-year deal

The Houston Astros have signed pitcher Ryne Stanek to a one-year deal.

This certainly wasn’t the big ticket addition fans were hoping for, but the Houston Astros have finally signed a player this offseason. Free agent pitcher Ryne Stanek has come to terms with the team on a one-year deal, first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the deal was for $1.1 million.

The 29-year-old Stanek was non-tendered by the Marlins earlier this offseason after pitching to a 7.20 ERA in nine relief appearances in 2020, though he missed more than a month due to contracting COVID-19. In parts of two seasons in Miami, the right-hander worked to a 6.03 ERA in 31 appearances spanning 31.1 innings, but he has a history with Astros GM James Click.

Stanek was a first round draft pick of the Rays back in 2013. He pitched for Tampa in parts of three seasons, both out of the bullpen and as an opener. He compiled a 3.55 ERA in 121 appearances for the Rays from 2017 to 2019 before being traded to the Marlins in the deal that brought Nick Anderson to Tampa.

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His Achilles heels are the free pass and the long ball, as he’s walked 4.5 per nine innings and allowed 1.5 home runs per nine innings over his career. But he’s limited hits to a reasonable 7.4 per nine innings and he’s fanned 10.9 hitters per nine, so he certainly qualifies as a live arm.

Deeper Dive

He relies on three pitches — a four seam fastball, slider and splitter. The four-seamer averaged at least 97.5 mph in each year from 2017 to 2019, but dropped to 95.8 mph in 2020. His slider and splitter both average in the high 80s, and the splitter in particular has historically been his most effective pitch and the one he uses most often to put away hitters.

The splitter’s effectiveness also took a tumble in 2020, however, as batters hit .364 against it after hitting below .100 in each of 2018 and 2019. However, I’m more inclined to disregard these sudden dips in effectiveness and velocity due to the shortened ramp-up to the 2020 season and the fact that Stanek actually had COVID.

With a full offseason to prepare, Click is obviously betting on Stanek looking more like his old self, which would certainly be a welcome addition. He’s not necessarily the closer the team is looking for, but he can pitch some important innings if he can run out there with his best stuff. He would also be under team control through the 2023 season via arbitration, so this could pay off well.

Stanek said he’s looking forward to the chance to “fight for a leverage role” and expressed excitement about joining a team with championship aspirations, saying, “I like how they run things.” For his part, Click insisted the team is “actively pursuing” other moves and expects to make further additions to the roster this offseason.