Astros lose key reliever to AL team with a history of creating regret

The Rays' latest free agent signing could end up haunting Houston.
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

When it comes to the guys that the Houston Astros lost in free agency after the 2023 season, some departures were expected. Hector Neris opted out of his deal and was asking for big money, so it was more surprising that he took as little as he did from the Cubs than it was that he wasn't coming back to the Astros. However, one guy that felt like a reunion should have really been in the cards was Phil Maton.

Maton is just one of those guys that is often overlooked, but he just gets the job done out of the bullpen. While his career before he joined the Astros in 2021 hadn't been great, the last two seasons saw Maton post a 3.42 ERA while striking out 10 batters per nine. He wasn't flashy and he wasn't pitching at the end of games, but he was as consistent as they came.

Unfortunately, the rest of the league seems to have taken notice of what Maton bring to the table with multiple teams in on him late in the offseason. There was still a small amount of hope that the Astros would find a way to bring him back, but it looks like Maton is heading south as it was reported that he has a deal with the Rays.

Losing Phil Maton to the Rays could haunt Houston

No one should be mad at Maton for leaving as the Astros likely had every opportunity to keep him unles he was hellbent on getting out of the state of Texas. While the financial terms are not yet known, it is highly unlikely that Tampa is paying Maton a crazy amount of money. Hopefully he kills it down there except when he is up against Houston.

What is a little spooky about this is that Rays are very, very well-known for taking underappreciated guys from other organizations and then railing on the rest of the league with them. Randy Arozarena? Former Cardinal that was acquired in a trade that was completely lopsided in the Rays' favor. Ben Zobrist? He was just part of a package for Aubrey Huff and became a franchise cornerstone in Tampa. The list goes on and on.

If the Rays are interested enough in a free agent to actually sign them, they clearly see something they like and what they like has a proven track record of winning baseball games. Houston's bullpen is in a decent spot now after the Hader signing and could be great if Forrest Whitley pans out, but one has to wonder if the Astros missed out when they failed to keep Maton around.

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