12/01/10 5:02 PM EST
Figueroa returns to Astros on one-year pact
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Figueroa said one of the best things about signing a one-year, $900,000 contract plus incentives with the Astros on Wednesday -- in addition to being able to put his mind at ease relatively early in the offseason -- is that the whole jersey thing has been settled.
"That's one of the best parts," Figueroa said. "I can go ahead and plan out Christmas presents and getting everybody the jersey they wanted all season long. To have a place to call home and have the security of knowing that I'm going to be there Opening Day. I'm really excited and thankful for the opportunity."
The Astros signed the versatile right-hander just a day before the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, which Figueroa was for the first time in his career. Coming off a season in which he had a career-high seven wins between the Phillies and Astros, he'll come to Spring Training competing for a spot in the rotation or the bullpen.
"I would love to get an opportunity to stick in the rotation," he said. "It's funny. I've been playing the game for 15 years and am still trying to get my feet wet at the Major League level. I feel I can be productive in any way they need me to."
Figueroa, 36, appeared in 31 games, including 11 starts, with Philadelphia and the Astros in 2010 and went 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA. Figueroa was claimed by Houston off waivers on July 21 and was 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 18 games for the Astros, including a 4-3 record with a 3.23 ERA in 10 starts.
In 15 games, including five starts, against National League Central opponents in 2010, he was 6-1 with a 3.02 ERA. Figueroa is 20-32 with a 4.29 ERA in 137 career Major League games for six different teams.
"First and foremost, he did a good job for us last year," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "When he came over, we knew he was a real solid competitor and he performed very well, and there's no reason to believe he couldn't do the same thing for us on an extended basis next year.
"He's a durable arm, and it seems like he pitches 12 months out of the year. The last several years, he's gone to winter ball, and he tries to put his best foot forward all the time. He's a bright guy and prepares well. Hopefully, there's an opportunity in the rotation for him to step up and perform."
Figueroa, who has spent this offseason working out at home in Arizona instead of playing winter ball, admitted he had some anxiety about the tender deadline and had Dec. 2 circled on his calendar.
"They showed tremendous faith in me, and I'm thankful for the opportunity and I'm preparing like never before to do my part next season," he said.
The signing leaves the Astros with six arbitration-eligible players ahead of Thursday's non-tender deadline at 10:59 p.m. CT: pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Jeff Keppinger and Clint Barmes and outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.