Astros sign reliever Joe Thatcher

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Houston has signed left-hander Joe Thatcher to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Thatcher struggled for the Angels at the end of last season, but was previously very effective for the Padres and Diamondbacks. He has a 3.40 ERA in 238 career innings while holding lefties to a .230 batting average and he’s also been effective enough versus righties to avoid being strictly a southpaw specialist.

Thatcher will make $1 million in guaranteed money if he cracks the Opening Day bullpen.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.