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MLB Roundup 1/14: Astros sign Pedro Báez

Another reliever comes off the board

World Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Pedro Báez signs with the Astros

With spring training getting so close and MLB for now still telling teams things are going to start on time, you would have thought things would pick up in free agency, but at least over the last couple of days that hasn’t been the case. Instead, there were no signings on Tuesday and on Wednesday there was just one, with another reliever coming off the board. After Liam Hendriks signed with Chicago it seemed that market may pick up soon, and Houston got in on the action here. They signed former Dodger Pedro Báez to a two-year deal with a guarantee of $12.5 million plus a team option for a third year.

Up until this point, Báez had spent his entire career with the Dodgers going back to 2014. Although he was maddening to watch at times as perhaps the slowest-working pitcher in the game, generally speaking he has been effective. He made at least 50 appearances every year from 2015 (his first full season in the majors) through 2019, while making 18 in 2020, so durability has never been an issue. The performance has been almost as consistent as well, at least by pure results. Over his entire major-league career, he has never had an ERA over 3.35, though his peripherals have bounced around a bit more. In the shortened 2020 he finished with his lowest strikeout rate of his career (18.6 percent) and second highest walk rate (10 percent).

This obviously affects the Red Sox some as they are expected to be looking for relievers and while Báez isn’t in that elite tier as I mentioned he has done nothing but produce results. That said, for this contract and given the peripherals last year even in a small sample, I’m not too upset. I wouldn’t have minded handing this deal out, but there are still other options available, a few of whom are better even before getting into the contract stuff. Plus, I’m not upset about not waiting like 90 seconds between pitches late in games.