One day after inking right-handed starter Scott Feldman to a three-year, $30 million contract, the Astros have signed veteran reliever Chad Qualls to a two-year deal with a club option for 2016. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Qualls will make $6 million guaranteed in the deal while the option is worth $3.5 million.
Qualls, 35, is coming off a solid season with the Marlins in which he posted a 2.61 ERA and 49/19 K/BB ratio over 62 innings, mostly in a set-up capacity. He posted his highest strikeout rate since 2010 while his 63.3 percent ground ball rate was the highest of his 10-year career. Though let’s be honest, he made more news for doing this than anything he did on the mound.
Qualls was originally drafted by the Astros in 2000 and spent his first four major league seasons with the club. He’s a curious fit for a team which isn’t anywhere close to contention, but the club’s recent activity should keep the MLBPA off their backs and Qualls might even get a chance to close games given how unsettled they are in their bullpen.
UPDATE: According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said that Qualls isn’t confirmed to be the closer yet and that the club could still add another reliever.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.