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D-Backs, Bob Howry agree to terms on one-year deal

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According to Nick Piecoro, the deal is worth $2-3 Million, with a team option for 2011. I'm sure there will be more to follow.

[Update by Jim] Popped in during the early parts of Return of the King, to find this. It definitely shores up the bullpen. Howry has a career ERA+ of 125, and even though he is 36, has a decent three-year average of 113. He had a 3.39 ERA in 63 appearances for the Giants last season, with a K:BB ratio of 2:1. As noted in the comments, it's another grab by the D-backs of a sturdy bullpen arm. Among "pure" relievers, Arizona now have three of the top twenty bullpen arms by innings pitched since 2007: Aaron Heilman (234.1 IP, #3), Howry (215.2 IP, #12) and Chad Qualls (208.1 IP #17). A hat-tip to BattleMoses for a Fanshot, but wise of Zephon to post a proper story, for updating purposes. 

One thing that is worth noting is that the cost likely puts the end to any significant chance of the team signing a slugger for first-base. This, combined with the offer currently sitting with second-baseman Kelly Johnson, would likely use up much of the remaining money in the budget. It'll be interesting to see how the bullpen now shapes up, with a number of potential ways to arrange things in the late innings of a close game. It also gives our relievers additional depth. I'm thinking the starting seven on Opening Day will be Qualls, Heilman, Howry, Zavada, Gutierrez, Vasquez and Rule 5 pick Zach Kroenke.

However, there are a couple of numbers in Howry's stats which raise some red-flags. I am concerned by a GB/FB ratio that was just 0.46 last season, compared to league average of 0.70. The previous two years with the Cubs, Howry was also around 0.50, so he definitely leans towards fly-balls. Additionally, while he had a good season in 2009, that was definitely somewhat BABIP-powered: the league average was .299, but Howry's BABIP fell all the way down to .238. It would be optimistic to expect that not to regress next year.

Howry will be returning to Phoenix, where he was born in 1973 and grew up - he attended Deer Valley High, before being taken in the 5th round of the 1994 draft, by the Giants. If took him almost 15 years to play in the major for them, however: he made his debut with the White Sox in 1998, and had spells in Boston and Cleveland, before switching to the National League and playing for the Cubs for three seasons, beginning in 2006. He had two solid seasons, but a poor 2008 was not what he wanted, and he signed a one-year, $2.75m contract in San Francisco. Nick Piecoro reports that Howry took less money to return home.

The team option for the following season, if that indeed proves to be the case, seems like a good one. I'm always a fan of team options - far more so than player ones, which seem to me to have no upside for the franchise. This way, if Howry proves solid, we can use him again in 2011; if not, one presumes the buyout will be relatively trivial.