Crain's recovery took longer than expected, which certainly was a disappointment to the Astros. He and Matt Albers were two of the club's big free-agent acquisitions last winter, and Albers pitched in eight games before being shut down. He missed most of the season, too.
Crain, who signed for $3.25 million this year, will be a free agent at season's end, and the Astros have a $3 million option on Albers for 2015 with a $200,000 buyout. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the club will pursue relief pitching this fall as a priority.
"Those two players were going to be two of our three best relievers," Luhnow said. "Albers had a great start and got injured, and Crain we never saw. That was huge. If we have a healthy Albers and a healthy Crain, this team is closer to 75 and 80 wins as opposed to 70, and I think that's a big difference.
"We've reflected on our process last year and made some improvements and we feel good about that. It's always a risk with relievers because there's a lot of variables year to year, but we feel good we'll identity the right guys [in the offseason] and go after them, and hopefully get a good roll of the dice this time in terms of the health side of the equation."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.