Houston Astros: The benefits of signing reliever Hector Rondon

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Hector Rondon
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Hector Rondon /

The Houston Astros have signed right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon to bolster the faltering bullpen. In order to make room for him, Preston Tucker has been designated for assignment. Here’s why I think the moves are worth it to repeat as champions.

The Houston Astros added more bullpen help Friday by signing former Chicago Cubs right-hander  Hector Rondon to a two year $8.5 million deal. The soon-to-be 30-year-old has been an effective pitcher for the Astros’ former division rival. The Cubs non-tendered Rondon at the deadline in a cost saving move. he leaves the club as one of the most accomplished closers in franchise history, converting 77 saves between 2014 and 2016.

Rondon had an uncharacteristically down year with a 4.24 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. From 2014 to 2016, Rondon averaged a 2.44 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. In spite of the uptick in ERA and WHIP, Rondon increased his K/9 to 10.8 with a 29 percent strikeout rate. His fastball velocity remained superb at 96.4 MPH. Rondon figures to fit in well with what the Houston Astros like in pitchers, as he had an above average ground-ball rate at 48.3 percent.

By signing Rondon to a low-risk, low-cost deal, the team is looking for him to bounce back to form in the 2018 season. He adds a late inning option to bridge the gap to get to Ken Giles. The closing experience he brings is just an added bonus to help mentor a young bullpen.

Making room for Rondon…

With Joe Smith taking up the final spot on the 40 man roster, the club needed to clear a spot when

More from House of Houston

they signed Rondon. To do so, the club designated Preston Tucker for assignment. The team has less than a week to either trade Tucker or outright him through waivers keeping him at AAA. Tucker was a solid outfielder for the team during the final rebuilding years.

However, as younger stars and players have risen and the club has signed outside veterans, Tucker fell out of favor with the club. He spent all of the 2017 season in AAA being bypassed by younger, more dynamic options. Tucker isn’t even the best player with his name in the organization. His younger brother, Kyle Tucker, is one of the Houston Astros’ best prospects.

Next: Why the Astros picked Joe Smith for the job

After adding RHP Joe Smith earlier in the week, Rondon figures to be one of the final pieces to complete the Astros’ bullpen. If Joe Smith continues his solid play and Rondon bounces back the bullpen looks quite promising.

Smith and Rondon, former teammates for the 2016 World Champion Cubs, bring needed experience to a young pen. However, the bullpen is not yet complete. Look for the team to find a dominant left-handed pitcher to take over for Tony Sipp for the 2018 season.