The Astros have reached agreement on a minor-league deal with left-hander Joe Thatcher, according to a major-league source. Thatcher will earn $1 million if he makes the major-league roster with an additional $2.3 million available in incentives, and can opt out of the contract if he is not on the team's active roster five days before Opening Day.
Thatcher, 33, drew interest from more than ten clubs this winter, with the Mets, Athletics and Rangers showing the most interest in addition to the Astros. He will join Tony Sipp and Kevin Chapman as southpaws in the Astros' bullpen mix, joining a unit that has added Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek so far this offseason.
Thatcher spent last season with the Diamondbacks and Angels, posting a combined 3.86 ERA in 53 appearances despite struggling down the stretch in sixteen appearances with the Halos after being traded from Arizona in early July. In eight major-league seasons for the Padres (2007-2013), Diamondbacks (2013-2014) and Angels (2014), Thatcher has posted a lifetime 10-13 record and 3.40 ERA in 238 innings over 362 appearances. He is particularly effective against lefties, who have hit only .230/.289/.351 against him for his career as opposed to the .275/.346/.369 line that righties have posted.