Hector Rondon, who posted 77 saves in a five-year Cubs career, was non-tendered by the team earlier this month.
Now, he’s got a new ballclub:
Free-agent RHP Hector Rondon in agreement with #Astros, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2017
There was a time, 2014-15 in particular, when Hector was a lights-out closer, often shutting down the ninth inning on 10 or fewer pitches. But he wasn’t quite as good in 2016, leading the team to acquire Aroldis Chapman, and Hector was relegated to a setup/middle relief role. He continued that in 2017 with Wade Davis closing, and did not have a good year: 4.24 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, 10 (!) home runs allowed in 57⅓ innings, and his highest walk rate (3.1) since his rookie year in 2013.
Rondon will turn 30 right around the time spring-training games begin. The Astros had some issues with Ken Giles, their closer, in the World Series and so it’s possible Hector might have a chance to do some closing work in Houston. Otherwise he’s likely to set up for Giles.
He completes his Cubs career with a 3.22 ERA, 1.127 WHIP and 4.0 bWAR in five seasons, with 77 saves in 94 save opportunities. The 77 saves rank sixth in Cubs franchise history. Here’s one Rondon save we’ll never forget, from the division series against the Cardinals in 2015:
Hector Rondon seemed like a good guy and good teammate and was popular with bleacher fans in particular. I wish him well with the Astros. There’s no specific word based on Ken Rosenthal’s tweet as to how long this deal is; the Cubs don’t face the Astros until 2019, so unless it’s a contract longer than one year, we might not see Hector Rondon at Wrigley Field for a while.