Nelson Figueroa was a non-tender candidate heading into his first season of arbitration eligibility, but the Astros have avoided having to make a decision on him before tomorrow night’s deadline by signing him to a one-year, $900,000 contract.
Figueroa has bounced around for a decade in the majors and minors, but pitched well for the Astros and Phillies this season with a 3.29 ERA and 73/34 K/BB ratio in 93 innings.
General manager Ed Wade indicated that Figueroa will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation and he has plenty of bullpen experience if the Astros decide to move him there instead. Despite being 36 years old Figueroa has just now accumulated enough service time to be arbitration eligible. He was claimed off waivers from the Phillies in July.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.