HOUSTON -- When lefty reliever Tony Sipp packed up his locker following a postseason disappointment, he was hit with the reality his days with the Astros might be over. Sipp loved his time in Houston and pitched well, but as a free agent who would be in demand, he was going to test the open waters.
More than 10 teams showed interest in Sipp, but his heart kept leading him back to the Astros, who signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract Friday. Sipp has had to battle for roster spots and contracts throughout much of his career, and he said the stability of a three-year deal in a place he enjoys is "life-changing."
"It says a lot because I felt like this was home, this is where I wanted to be," he said. "I made it easy almost to bring me back, because I verbalized how much I did like this organization and wanted to stick around. I can see the talent on this team. I'd hate to have to depart from the team that you see so much potential with all the young core talent we have as a team. I just want to be a part of it.
"I love the guys. I feel like we're a family. To know I'll be around for at least three more years, hopefully longer, is definitely a weight off my back, and I can continue to add whatever DNA I can add on this team and just do my part and help the young guys grow."
Sipp, 32, went 3-4 with a 1.99 ERA in 60 games for the Astros last season, holding right-handers to a .190 batting average. His ERA ranked second in the American League among lefty relievers, behind Zach Britton (1.92), and it was the lowest of his career.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch wasn't shy about using Sipp in various roles, and those roles became more important as the season progressed. Sipp faced right-handers and left-handers at key times and worked more than an inning on 12 occasions. Sipp was a steady hand during nine appearances in September when the bullpen was struggling as a whole.
"It makes me feel good knowing I have someone I can use in the most important outs against really any hitter and any combination," Hinch said. "He gets it done at a high level."
Sipp, who was joined at Friday's news conference by longtime agent Dustin Bledsoe, compared the interest he was getting from other teams like trying to date, and he wasn't ready to betray the relationship with the Astros.
"It was refreshing to know other clubs wanted me," he said. "My heart was here. I wanted to come back and was just happy that this organization showed the most interest. It was a mutual thing for us."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow framed the signing during the news conference at Minute Maid Park as one of the team's most important offseason acquisitions.
"He's been a terrific contributor on this team, a terrific member of the clubhouse and community, and we're delighted to have him back," Luhnow said.