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Rockies sign relievers Jason Motte, Chad Qualls

Chad Qualls Getty

Looking to add some veteran bullpen arms in another rebuilding season, the Rockies have signed free agent relievers Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to a pair of two-year contracts.

Qualls was reasonably effective for the Astros in 2015, throwing 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio, but the 36-year-old right-hander struggled down the stretch and was left off the team’s playoff roster. His velocity has declined with age, but Qualls still pounds the strike zone and generates lots of ground balls. Houston made him a free agent by declining a $3.5 million option and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says his new two-year deal is worth $6 million.

Motte led the league with 42 saves for the Cardinals in 2012, but his career was derailed by injuries. He missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 before returning last season in a middle relief role for the Cubs, posting a 3.91 ERA and 34/11 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. Motte’s secondary numbers since returning in mid-2014 look nothing like his previous strong work, but his fastball still sits in the mid-90s. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Motte’s two-year deal is worth $10 million.

It’s unclear why the Rockies of all teams felt the need to make multi-year commitments to 37-year-old and 34-year-old relievers without much upside, but price-wise $4-$6 million per season seems to be more or less the going rate for any kind of serviceable veterans.

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