The Houston Astros continue to shore up their bullpen, agreeing to a two-year deal with free-agent reliever Pedro Baez, pending physical.
Houston has been aggressive in trying to upgrade the bullpen, having targeted high-end relievers Liam Hendriks and Blake Treinen. When they signed elsewhere, general manager James Click aggressively pursued alternative options. First, it was Ryne Stanek. On Wednesday, it was Baez.
Baez, 32, dealt with a groin injury in 2020 and it led to a somewhat down season, finishing the year with a 3.18 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 18 appearances. He spent time as the Dodgers’ closer last season as Kenley Jensen continued to struggle.
In Houston, Baez will step into a high-leverage relief role. He figures to pair nicely with right-hander Ryan Pressly in the late innings and gives the Astros two dependable options and much-needed depth to take the pressure off a young rotation that will be without Justin Verlander for most, if not all, of the upcoming season.
It is possible that the Astros continue to pursue bullpen help to shore up the group, though they may be out of the running for high-end relievers such as Alex Colome and Trevor Rosenthal. But in adding Baez, the team secured a reliever who has had a 3.35 ERA or less in every season since 2014. His signing will not catch the headlines that Hendriks did, but the Astros could have done much worse in adding to the bullpen.
The Stanek and Baez moves mean that there will be more money available to add to the outfield, so it is possible the team now shifts its attention to Michael Brantley and/or Jackie Bradley Jr.
But the Astros’ goal this winter was to add to the bullpen. On Wednesday, they continued to upgrade what the team believes is one of, if not the biggest, weaknesses on their roster.