Ranking the 7 biggest free agent signings in Astros history

In light of the Astros landing top free agent Josh Hader, let's take a look at the biggest free agent signings in Astros history.

San Diego Padres v Milwaukee Brewers
San Diego Padres v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
6 of 6
Next

No. 1: Nolan Ryan

In 1979, the Astros made Nolan Ryan the first million-dollar man in MLB history, signing him to a four-year, $4.5 million deal. The Ryan Express went on to spend nine years in Houston, going 106-94 with a 3.13 ERA and 2.87 FIP.

Ryan played in the era of baseball when the only metric that mattered for pitchers was wins, so he never received the award recognition he deserved in Houston as a result of playing for a mediocre team.

Only three times in his tenure did Ryan even finish top-10 in AL Cy Young voting, though he twice led the NL in ERA and strikeouts, and four times gave up the fewest hits/9 in the league. He threw his fifth no-hitter while with Houston, and also became MLB's all-time leader in strikeouts while playing for the Astros. In his first year in Houston, he led them to their first division title in franchise history.

The Astros retired Ryan's No. 34 in 1996, and he was of course a member of their inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2019.

The Astros made him the highest-paid player in big league history, and he continued to build on what was already one of the best pitching resumes in the history of the sport. There has been no greater signing in franchise history than Nolan Ryan.