Source: #Astros agree to deal with Jerome Williams, pending physical.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 3, 2014
That "deal" is apparently a one-year, guaranteed contract with performance bonuses.
Williams is a 32-year old RHP (he was the 39th overall pick by the Giants in the 1999 draft). For the last three years, Williams has pitched for the Angels with 44IP in 2011, 137.2IP in 2012, and 169.1IP in 2013. In his time shuttling between the rotation and the bullpen with Anaheim, Williams was 19-18 with a 4.46 ERA/1.34 WHIP and a 2.22 K:BB ratio (6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9), totaling 1.4 WAR. His FIP over the last three years has been moderately consistent at 4.62, 4.15, and 4.60, with xFIPs outperforming his FIP. His BABIP has been a very consistent .291, .293, .293 in his time with Anaheim, as well.
According to FanGraphs, Williams throws a mix of fastball, cutter, sinker, with a changeup (8.4%), slider (6.6%) and a curve (6.3%) every now and then. His fastball and cutter were above average in 2013 (using FanGraphs' Pitch f/x values), while his sinker was definitely not, and his cutter was "moderately not" (quotations mine).
How does this affect the Astros? Here's where it gets interesting. In the games Williams started in 2013, opponents hit .285/.345/.472 (.306 BABIP). In the 12 games Williams entered in relief, they hit .211/.254/.298 (.237 BABIP) in an obviously more-limited sample size.
So it depends on the role the Astros are asking of Williams. I doubt Williams is in the mix at closer, so I'm not sure what the performance bonuses of a middle-relief guy would look like.
And sure enough! Here's Evan Drellich discounting the previous two paragraphs:
Astros signed Jerome Williams to major league deal to be a starting pitcher, not a reliever. Of course, he can do both.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 3, 2014
So let's keep in mind the rotation candidates for 2014:
Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Lucas Harrell, Dallas Keuchel, Brad Peacock, Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski. Add Jerome Williams to that list on a guaranteed contract and someone's getting knocked out.
At least we'll have a good season of Survivor: Kissimmee to look forward to!