© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

12/02/08 12:32 AM EST

Hampton returning to Astros

Deal is pending physical; lefty won 22 games for Houston in '99

HOUSTON -- The Astros have a deal in place with left-hander Mike Hampton, pending a physical, MLB.com has learned.

General manager Ed Wade declined to comment.

Hampton, 36, will be in Houston either Monday or Tuesday to take the physical, which is usually the final step before a team and player finalize a deal. An announcement confirming an agreement between the free agent and the Astros could arrive sometime on Tuesday, assuming Hampton passes.

The deal is believed to be for $2 million plus incentives.

It's been nine years since Hampton last threw a pitch for the Astros, but in September, he expressed an interest in returning to Houston. He started the final game of the season in Houston as a member of the Braves pitching staff and said after the game he would be open to negotiating with the Astros.

"I've always loved this place," he told MLB.com after the game. "Definitely. I'm sure there will be interest on both sides. We'll see if we can work something out. I've always loved it here."

Hampton enjoyed some of the best years of his career during his years with the Astros from 1996-99. He won 15 games in '97 and was on the mound when the Astros clinched their first National League Central title. In '99, he won 22 games, finishing in second place in the Cy Young Award voting behind Randy Johnson.

Hampton has had his share of injury issues in the past several years, including a strained left oblique that kept him out of action for the entire 2007 season. He also had surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow that year.

He injured his right hamstring during an appearance in the Mexican Winter League last November, and he was sidelined from his first start of the season for the Braves in April when he strained a left pectoral muscle minutes before the game.

However, Hampton went on to make 13 starts this year while compiling a 3-4 record and a 4.85 ERA. He was strong in September, allowing 16 earned runs over six starts, spanning 38 innings for a 3.79 ERA.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.