Astros sign Feldman to three-year contract
Veteran right-hander, who won 12 games in 2013, will earn $30 million
HOUSTON -- When veteran right-hander Scott Feldman came to the realization the Astros could wind up signing him, he went to the team's web site and scrolled through the roster, looking at the ages of his new teammates.
"I felt a little bit old," the 30-year-old said.
The Astros, of course, ended the 2013 season as baseball's youngest team with an average age of 26 years old, and went into the offseason with the goal of adding some veteran players to sprinkle into the youthful mix for 2014.
Feldman, a nine-year veteran who split last season between the Cubs and the Orioles, signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Astros on Friday, marking the club's second veteran acquisition this week after acquiring center fielder Dexter Fowler on Tuesday in a trade with the Rockies.
The 6-foot-7 Feldman went 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 30 starts with the Cubs and Orioles last season. He gives the Astros a proven arm to plug into their young rotation with Jarred Cosart, Dallas Keuchel, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock, among others.
"I think the future here is very bright and I've been fortunate enough to live in the state of Texas before," Feldman said. "I love it here and my wife is from down here. Just speaking with these people on the phone and getting a chance to meet a lot of them today, it seems like a very classy group of people, and I'm just honored they wanted me to come down here and pitch for them."
Feldman's wife attended high school in the Houston area and went to the University of Texas. He's also no stranger to the Lone Star State, having spent the first eight years of his career with the Rangers. He made his first 73 career appearances out of the bullpen from 2005-07 before being moved to the rotation in '08.
"I love living in Texas and obviously she does, too," said Feldman, who went unsigned after the Astros drafted him in 2002. "Her parents are excited and we've got a lot of friends in Texas and a lot of other childhood friends and friends from college that live around here. We're both very excited."
Feldman's best season came in 2009, when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 games (31 starts). Feldman is a ground-ball pitcher who allowed only 159 hits in 181 2/3 innings last season with 132 strikeouts and 56 walks. He was traded to the Orioles from the Cubs in July.
"Going into my free agency last year, I was looking for a place to go where I could prove to anybody that I was capable of starting 30 games," said Feldman, who had Tommy John surgery in 2003 and knee surgery in '10. "I was put in a situation where the Cubs gave me that opportunity, and I'm grateful to them and also the Orioles for trading for me and putting me in a pennant race like that. It was a big year for me, but I honestly felt like what I really needed was an opportunity and I'm glad I was able to make the most of it and now I'm sitting here as a Houston Astro, and I'm pretty excited about it."
Considering he's pitched for three teams in the last two years, the Hawaii-born Feldman was happy to find some stability.
"I think I wanted a fair deal and be somewhere that wanted me," he said. "I feel very blessed and fortunate this organization is really headed in the right direction. We have some good times in front of us. I'm just fortunate they wanted me to be here and come in here and pitch."
The Astros' wealth of young starters allowed them to feel comfortable about trading the 23-year-old Jordan Lyles to Colorado in exchange for Fowler. In addition to Cosart, Keuchel, Oberholtzer and Peacock, the club will also bring Alex White, Rudy Owens and Asher Wojciechowski to camp next year to compete for a job in the rotation.
Feldman will be the "old man" of the group looked upon by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow to set the tone.
"He's a guy that induces a lot of ground balls, he's a guy that throws strikes and doesn't walk a lot of guys and he's had success," Luhnow said. "He's had a lot of success the last couple of years, and the years he was with the Rangers. We thought the Cubs got a good deal in getting him and got a good return in trading him to the Orioles. We had him on the radar from the end of our season as one of the guys we were targeting."
By bringing aboard Fowler and Feldman, the Astros have added roughly $17 million in payroll for next season, and they're not done. Luhnow didn't rule out adding another starter, but he said the club's focus now is getting some bullpen help.
Luhnow said the Astros have some offers on the table to relief pitchers and are hoping to land one and preferably two veteran arms to the relief corps. The club has talked about signing veteran Jose Veras, who spent the first half of last season with Houston before being traded to Detroit.
"We have some offers out there we're waiting on and whether or not things happen this week and next week or the week after that, I'm not sure," Luhnow said "We feel pretty good we're going to get at least one or two of the guys we're targeting."