Strengthening 'pen a goal met for Astros

Strengthening 'pen a goal met for Astros

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Astros did what they set out to do coming into the Winter Meetings, reaching a deal to acquire Phillies closer Ken Giles in exchange for four players, and coming to an agreement with free agent relief pitcher Tony Sipp to a reported three-year deal worth $18 million.

Those were two huge moves the club wanted to make to bolster the bullpen. It's the second consecutive year the Astros focused on relief pitching at the Winter Meetings, and after acquiring Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek a year ago, Giles will fortify the back end and give Houston some needed firepower.

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Winter Meetings highlights
Below were the biggest moves of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
12/9: D-backs acquire RHP Shelby Miller from Braves for OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair, SS Dansby Swanson.
Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker from Pirates for LHP Jon Niese.
Astros to acquire RHP Ken Giles from Phillies for RHP Vincent Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, others. Not official.
White Sox acquire IF Brett Lawrie from A's for two Minor Leaguers.
Mets to sign SS Asdrubal Cabrera to 2-year deal. Not official.
Mariners acquire 1B Adam Lind from Brewers for three Minor Leaguers.
12/8: D-backs sign 6-year deal with Zack Greinke.
Cubs sign 4-year deal with 2B Ben Zobrist.
Yankees acquire 2B Starlin Castro from Cubs for RHP Adam Warren, PTBNL.
Cubs sign 2-year deal with RHP John Lackey.
Cardinals acquire 2B Jedd Gyorko from Padres for OF Jon Jay.
12/7: Dodgers near 3-year deal with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. Not official.
Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jonathan Aro from Red Sox for RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias.
Royals sign 2-year deal with RHP Chris Young.
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Giles is likely to become the Astros' closer, a role he held for the Phillies last season. He had a 1.80 ERA and 15 saves in 17 opportunities, averaging 96.5 mph with his fastball and striking out 87 batters in 70 innings.

Sipp, who had a 1.99 ERA last year, is valuable because he proved he could get out right-handers and left-handers and saw his role increase beyond a lefty specialist. And with the bevy of talented left-handed bats the Astros face in the division, they needed him back.

Both deals are pending physicals and could be announced by the end of the week.

• Justice: Giles the ideal acquisition for Houston

Deals done
The Astros reached an agreement to acquire Giles and reached an agreement to re-sign Sipp.

Rule 5
The Astros didn't lose any players in the Rule 5 Draft, which was somewhat of a surprise. The only player they selected was Mexican right-hander Octavio Acosta from the Mets in the Triple-A phase.

Goals accomplished
The Astros' biggest goal was met: relief pitching. Getting a closer who's under control for five more years in Giles and re-signing Sipp further fortifies a bullpen that was already a strength.

Sipp re-signs with Astros

Unfinished business
The club would still like to add a starting pitcher to the middle of the rotation. That could be easier to do via trade because of the high price tag in free agency, but the Astros have dealt away a lot of prospects in the last few months.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.