Houston Astros Add Reliever Jesse Crain To Bullpen Mix
In a move that could wind up being a pretty wise decision by G.M. Jeff Luhnow, the Houston Astros agreed with reliever Jesse Crain on a one-year deal. The news came through yesterday, December 31st, and financial terms of the agreement have not yet been released.
After getting off to a tremendous start in 2013, the 32-year old Crain experienced shoulder issues before ultimately requiring surgery in October. Though his first half stats (an 11.3 K/9, an 0.74 ERA and 4.18 K/BB ratio in 36 2/3 innings) warranted a selection to the A.L. All-Star squad, Crain didn’t throw a pitch after June 29th. Despite his physical issues, the Chicago White Sox dealt Crain to the Tampa Bay Rays before the non-waiver trading deadline. Seen as a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Rays, Crain didn’t throw a pitch for Joe Maddon‘s team in 2013 due to his shoulder woes.
The Astros, however, could wind up with a solid under-the-radar signing in Crain. He passed his physical with Houston, confirming his contract, but he has not yet begun his throwing program after his October surgery. Should he be on-track to rehab in time for spring training he could presumably be quite a force in the Astros bullpen in 2014.
Houston is mired in the basement of the A.L. West looking up at the substantially more powerful Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners and they have re-vamped their bullpen thus far this offseason. Crain joins new recruits Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Anthony Bass, Peter Moylan, Raul Valdes, and Darin Downs, with each reliever likely to vie for a spot in Bo Porter‘s bullpen in spring training.
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that if he ends up healthy enough to contribute in a major way, Crain will be in the mix for the team’s closer role. Though Crain does not have any Major League experience closing ballgames, he’s open to the assignment if it comes up and is quoted as saying the possibility was a factor in his decision to sign with Houston.
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