Pirates Close to Deal With Jonathan Sanchez

According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates are close to a deal with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez missed time last year with a biceps injury. He only made 15 starts, putting up a pretty alarming 8.07 ERA in 64.2 innings. His xFIP was better at 6.46, but not good.

The lefty looked better in previous years, and always reminded me of Oliver Perez. His biggest issue has been a total lack of control, with a career 5.0 BB/9 ratio. However, he’s got dominant stuff, with a career 9.1 K/9 ratio. Last year was clearly a horrible season, but the 2009-2011 numbers were much better. Sanchez had a 3.07 ERA in 193.1 innings in 2010, and an ERA around 4.25 in 2009 and 2011. His xFIP in those years was in the range of 3.94-4.36.

It’s unclear where Sanchez fits in with the Pirates, or whether this would be a big league deal. Considering the 2012 injury, I’d guess this would be a minor league deal. Sanchez is a lefty, and the Pirates don’t have a lot of left-handed depth, so he could be a strong competitor for the second lefty spot in the bullpen. He profiles better as a starter if he can bounce back from his 2012 numbers. The Pirates have a lot of starting options, with Kyle McPherson, Jeff Locke, and Jeff Karstens as candidates to fill the final two positions. Francisco Liriano would fill one of those spots if his deal becomes official.

It’s also unclear what this says about Liriano. Sanchez and Liriano have similar profiles. They’re both left-handers who are coming off horrible seasons, both having control issues, both relatively young (Sanchez is 30). They also both have strong arms, dominant strikeout numbers, and are each a few years removed from outstanding numbers.

For now nothing is official on either front. We’ll have to see how this plays out.

UPDATE 9:52 PM: Rob Biertempfel says it’s a minor league deal.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Interesting signing….the more the merrier and let the best starting pitchers win.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

      Yeah, more potential than ever. My only hope is that if someone falters along the way, they have the courage to give someone else a shot. That would be a stark contrast from last year. I’d hate to see 5 pitchers in AAA that deserve an opportunity, and some has-been underachieving at the major league level.