The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday that they have signed right-handed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal were not announced. Vogelsong had a 4.67 ERA in 135 innings last year for the San Francisco Giants, making 22 starts and 11 relief appearances.
The 38-year-old Vogelsong spent the 2001-06 seasons with the Pirates, posting a 6.00 ERA in 280.1 innings. He went to Japan for three years and returned a new pitcher. For the Giants in 2011, he had a 2.71 ERA in 179.2 innings. He followed that up with a 3.37 ERA in 189.2 innings in 2012. Since then, the stats have dropped some, starting with a tough 2013 season, where he had a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. That was followed by a 4.00 ERA in 32 starts during the 2014 season.
Last year, he lost his starting job in July, then picked it back up again in August, making starts until late in the year when he finished off the season in the bullpen. As a starter, he had a 4.50 ERA, with 90 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP in 116 innings. He held batters to a .265 BAA, while posting a 1.05 GO/AO ratio. Vogelsong has a 2.92 ERA in 37 playoff innings between 2012 and 2014.
He did not pitch well out of the bullpen, but it’s likely that the Pirates picked him up to be a starter. Right now he would fit in with Jeff Locke at the back-end of a rotation led by Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Jonathan Niese.
Update 5:40pm: Adam Berry reports that the deal is $2M base salary, with a possible $3M in performance bonuses. Considering that they basically traded Vogelsong for Morton, who will get $8M this year plus a likely buyout($1M) for his 2017 option, they will save $4M minimum in that exchange and will likely get the same type of performance.
It’s only December 18th, so there is plenty of time to add more pitching. Assuming Vogelsong is the last starter they signed though, either he or Locke would be the first one in danger of losing their rotation spot when Jameson Taillon or Tyler Glasnow join the rotation. As mentioned, Opening Day is still a long way off so there are no guarantees that Vogelsong will make the rotation, he’s just one of the best five options at this point. A week ago Charlie Morton was the fifth best starter(or fourth) and yesterday Allen Webster was being mentioned as the fifth starter. A lot can change between now and April 3rd.
Source: Ryan Vogelsong's deal with the #Pirates is for $2 million, with another $3 million possible in performance bonuses.
— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) December 18, 2015