Adding some pitching depth just a week before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, the Pittsburgh Pirates and left-hander Jonathan Sanchez are reportedly close to a deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has since confirmed that it looks to be a minor league contract but a deal has not yet been completed.
Sanchez is coming off a rough 2012 season that saw him traded twice. Just prior to the start of the season he was sent packing from the San Francisco Giants to the Kansas City Royals for Melky Cabrera. He was moved again before midseason, this time to Colorado for Jeremy Guthrie. Between the two stops he pitched just 64.2 innings over 15 starts, going 1-9 with a 8.07 ERA, 2.088 WHIP, and a career-worst 7.4 BB/9.
It’s hard to gauge what Sanchez might be able to bring to the table in Pittsburgh. Outside of his 2010 campaign (13-9, 3.07 ERA, 193.1 IP) his career has been largely inconsistent and relatively mediocre. Given the other options that will be in camp for the Pirates, it’s also hard to imagine a situation in which he makes the team’s active roster at the end of Spring Training. The front of the Pirates rotation – A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Wandy Rodriguez – is likely set and Jeff Karstens appears to have an inside track of one of the two remaining spots. That could leave just one opening to a group already consisting of Andy Oliver, Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, and Jeff Locke. The team also has top prospect Gerrit Cole waiting in the wings with the expectation that he’ll join the rotation sometime this season.
There also remains a possibility that the organization finalizes their deal with Francisco Liriano, which was first agreed upon in January. It is uncertain if the Sanchez signing will affect the team’s efforts with Liriano.