Astros bring back Michaels, sign Chacin
MLB.com’s Alyson Footer reports that the Astros have re-signed Jason Michaels to a one-year, $800,000 contract and added left-hander Gustavo Chacin on a minor league deal. After a brutal start, Michaels performed well in extremely limited action for the Astros last season, hitting .311/.400/.557 in 61 at-bats after the break to finished with a 752 OPS. Although he spent all season on the active roster, he made just 18 starts and received a total of 135 at-bats. He did his best work when he was in the lineup, as he hit only .225 with four RBI in 53 at-bats a pitch-hitter. His return, in combination with the decision not to non-tender Jeff Keppinger, makes it appear as though the Astros will have a particularly punchless bench again. Geoff Blum is the star of the group. As things stand now, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles will form the catching duo, while the fifth bench spot could go to Jason Bourgeois. The Astros may yet add a veteran backup center fielder and bump Bourgeois to Triple-A. Chacin, who has dealt with a multitude of arm problems since going 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA as a 24-year-old for the Blue Jays in 2005, finished 8-4 with a 3.21 ERA for the Phillies’ Triple-A club last season. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007. He picked a good team to sign with, given that the Astros currently have Brian Moehler and Felipe Paulino at the bottom of the rotation.