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Astros sign free agent Qualls to two-year deal

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The Houston Astros have signed free agent right-handed pitcher Chad Qualls to a two-year contract, which includes a club option for the 2016 season. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.

Qualls, 35, went 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA (18ER/62IP) in 66 relief appearances for Miami last season. He induced 11 double play balls, which ranked tied for third among National League relievers, and ranked fifth in the NL in ground ball percentage (77.7%). Qualls has now made 50 or more appearances in nine consecutive seasons (2005-13) and since his debut in 2004, ranks second among all Major League relievers with 663 career appearances.

"Improving our bullpen is a top priority this offseason," said Luhnow. "Bringing Chad back to Houston is a big step in that direction."

Qualls returns to Houston, the organization that drafted him in the second round of the 2000 draft. He worked his way up the minors and pitched parts of four seasons for the Astros (2004-07). Over his first two campaigns (2004-05), he was an integral part of the Astros bullpen that carried the club to a National League Championship series in 2004 and a World Series appearance in 2005. Qualls made three appearances in the 2005 World Series, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings pitched (1.69 ERA). Overall as an Astro, he made 262 appearances and owns a 23-12 record with six saves and a 3.39 ERA (107ER/284IP).

Qualls has pitched for eight different organizations in his career, including time with Houston (2004-07), Arizona (2008-10), Tampa Bay (2010), San Diego (2011), Philadelphia (2012), New York-AL (2012), Pittsburgh (2012) and Miami (2013). In his 663 career appearances, Qualls has gone 45-37 with 51 saves and a 3.79 ERA (277ER/657.1IP).

With the addition of Qualls, the Astros 40-man roster is now at 38 players.

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