The Houston Astros are facing the possibility of major free-agent losses next winter, but right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will no longer number among them. McCullers and the Astros have agreed to terms on a five-year extension that will begin after the 2021 season, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. ESPN's Jeff Passan adds that the deal will be worth $85 million, which comes to an average annual value of $17 million.
McCullers, 27, is coming off a 2020 season in which he pitched to a 3.93 ERA and a 2.80 K/BB ratio in 11 starts and 55 innings. For his career, the one-time All-Star owns an ERA+ of 110 across parts of five MLB seasons. Of his 94 career games pitched, 91 have been starts. The Astros originally drafted him with the No. 41 overall pick out of a Tampa high school in 2012.
While McCullers has enjoyed runs of success on the mound and has impressive stuff, health has been an issue. In his career, he's been on the injured list for six different injuries, including shoulder, elbow, and back issues. He missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and last season he was sidelined with an irritated nerve in his neck. The hope, obviously, is that McCullers can stay mostly healthy moving forward, and the investment in him says the Astros are betting he will.
Next offseason, Houston is still faced with the potential free-agent losses of Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. McCullers, though, now joins Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman as members of the championship core to engage in a dual long-term commitment with the Astros.
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