Astros closer Ryan Pressly made his 60th appearance of the season in yesterday’s 9-5 win over the Angels, thus reaching an important contractual milestone. As noted by The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome, the Astros’ $10M club option on Pressly’s services for 2022 has now vested into a fully guaranteed deal.
The original terms of Pressly’s two-year extension with the Astros guaranteed the reliever at least $17.5M in new money, plus a $7M club option for 2022. That $7M figure rose to $10M once Pressly appeared in his 40th game of the 2021 season, and the option automatically vested if Pressly made 60 or more appearances in both the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Due to the shortened nature of the 2020 season, Pressly’s threshold for last season was adjusted to 23 games, and the right-hander hit that benchmark in Houston’s third-to-last game of the 60-game regular season schedule.
In all likelihood, Pressly’s option would’ve been a very easy call for the Astros to make even if he hadn’t reached the vesting threshold. The 32-year-old has been one of the best relievers in baseball this year, delivering a 2.19 ERA/2.35 SIERA over 61 2/3 innings and converting 25 of 27 save chances. As per the Statcast metrics, Pressly’s 33.2% strikeout rate and 5.0% walk rate are each in the 94th percentile, while his chase rate and spin rates on both his curveball and his 95.4mph fastball are in even more elite status (Pressly ranks first among all qualified pitchers in curve spin). To top it off, Pressly’s 54.8% grounder rate was also the best of his nine MLB seasons.
This now makes four consecutive seasons of elite work for Pressly, acquired by the Astros from the Twins in a deadline deal in 2018. Already a strong setup man, Pressly has emerged as Houston’s top ninth-inning option over the last two seasons, which only further enhanced his value to the bullpen. Pressly has been named to the AL All-Star team in both 2019 and 2021.
With Pressly’s salary now officially on the books, the Astros have $101.9M committed to nine players (Pressly, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Lance McCullers Jr., Jake Odorizzi, Pedro Baez, Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro). That number will almost surely rise to $109.9M for 10 players, since Yuli Gurriel’s $8M club option looks very likely to be exercised considering Gurriel’s impressive numbers. The team will have plenty of major holes to fill considering Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and the injured Justin Verlander will all be free agents, but since the Astros reset their luxury tax number and began this season with a payroll just shy of $188M, Houston should have plenty of room to spend this winter.