Jonathan Sanchez Will Open the Season as the Fourth Starter
Today was the deadline for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a decision on left-handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. Early this morning Sanchez and his agent met in Clint Hurdle’s office with Hurdle and Neal Huntington. The Pirates decided to add Sanchez to the roster, giving him the fourth spot in the rotation.
“We’ve had some very good competition this Spring. All four guys have thrown the ball well at times, some better than others,” Neal Huntington said of the guys who were competing for a rotation spot. “And all four guys have had their struggles, some worse than others. Jonathan’s last two starts have been very encouraging. The off-speed pitches have been very effective. The fastball command has been enough.”
Sanchez is coming off a down season in 2012. He dealt with some injuries throughout the year, and saw his control numbers take a dive, with his overall numbers also taking a hit. That was a big change from the 2009-2011 seasons, where his numbers were respectable.
“As we look to what we’ve seen here in Spring Training, [Sanchez is] much closer to the guy in 2011 and 2010, than certainly the guy who struggled in 2012,” Huntington said. “He had a tough year a year ago. He’s moved beyond it at least from what we’ve seen in Spring Training. The three pitches are playing well. He’s pounding the zone. In our minds he’s got weapons that gives us reasons to think he can get major league hitters out on a consistent basis.”
Sanchez was a non-roster invitee, and an Article XX-B free agent. That latter designation means that the Pirates had to make a decision on him by today, pay a $100,000 roster retention bonus in order to keep him, or release him at his request. They only had to commit a roster spot to him today. Since they committed that spot, the Pirates don’t have to pay the retention bonus. They also don’t have to make a corresponding move on the 40-man roster until the final rosters are submitted, which gives some time to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.