Former Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitcher Ken Giles adjusts his new jersey as he is introduced as the newest addition to the Houston Astros Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Houston. The Astros traded four pitchers to the Phillies for Giles and shortstop
Pat Sullivan
December 14, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) The Astros haven't yet decided whether Ken Giles will be their closer next season.

That's OK with the newly-acquired player.

''I believe I can be successful in any role possible Monday,'' he said. ''It doesn't matter what the role. I can be the eighth inning guy, which I've done before and I'd be perfectly fine with that as long as it means helping the team out.''

Giles was acquired Saturday from the Philadelphia Phillies in a multi-player deal that also landed Houston minor league shortstop Jonathan Arauz. The Astros gave up 2013 top overall draft pick Mark Appel, a right-handed starter, in the deal as well as starters Brett Oberholtzer and Vince Velasquez and minor league pitchers Harold Arauz and Thomas Eshelman.

The 25-year-old Giles will compete with incumbent closer Luke Gregerson for the job in spring training.

''Right now it's just nothing that we need to address,'' manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I have everybody on board and they all want to do what's best for our team. We'll sort it out.''

Gregerson went 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA and converted 31 of 36 save opportunities in 64 games last season in this first year in Houston. Giles was 6-3 with a 1.80 ERA in 69 games for the Phillies in 2015. He spent the final two months of the season as the team's closer and converted 15 of 17 save opportunities. He finished third among National League relievers in ERA and tied for fourth with 87 strikeouts.

''One of the priorities going into this offseason was to bolster the bullpen and bring in some arms that can help us in important situations late in the game,'' general manager Jeff Luhnow said. ''What he did last year in Philadelphia, established himself as one of the elite late-inning relievers in the game is really something we were looking (for).''

The Astros returned to the postseason last season for the first time since 2005 and won the AL wild-card game before being eliminated by the Kansas City Royals in the Division Series. Luhnow certainly wasn't thrilled to have given up so much to get Giles, but believes it was an important move for the team's future.

''It's difficult to give up any of these players,'' Luhnow said. ''We've given up a lot of talent, but the reason we've been aggressively acquiring talent over the last four years is so we could do this. So we could go out and get a Mike Fiers, a Carlos Gomez, a Scott Kazmir and get a Ken Giles and prepare ourselves to win a championship. Those are the moves that you have to make. And yes, it's a gamble. You're giving up players that have a lot of future potential, but you're getting players that can help you right now.''

Appel was expected to be a front of the rotation starter when the Astros took him with the No. 1 pick, but he struggled in the farm system and never reached the majors. The 24-year-old was 16-11 with a 5.12 ERA in 54 career minor league appearances. In Triple-A last season he was 5-2 with a 4.48 ERA in 12 starts.

Team owner Jim Crane was disappointed Appel never reached the majors.

''Mark was one of our best prospects and certainly we would have liked to have seen him make it up here,'' he said. ''But I think it was a good trade for everybody. I think he's got some upside, but certainly we got a guy that's ready to go that's proven and ... throws 100 mph so that's going to add a dimension we did not have.''

The trade came after Houston re-signed left-handed reliever Tony Sipp to an $18 million, three-year contract last week. But Houston is far from done making moves to improve a team that ranked 27th in the majors at the end of last season with a payroll of $82 million.

''The payroll will go up this year again,'' Crane said. ''We could reach $100 million, but it's not there yet. Jeff's got more work to do and we're considering more trades. Where we can make an addition that makes good sense ... we'll continue to add the funds where it makes good sense to (fill) spots that we need.''

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