Jon Heyman reports today that the Pirates are interested in right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson and Heyman believes he would be a good fit for the Pirates. This isn’t a new rumor, as we heard it from two differences sources earlier this month, but the is the first time it’s been mentioned since the Pirates signed Ryan Vogelsong and acquired Kyle Lobstein, which gave them a fifth starter and some depth. There appears to be more interest in Masterson now than before. On December 5th, there were reportedly five teams in on him, while now Heyman says as many as ten teams are showing interest.
The 30-year-old Masterson has had a couple poor seasons since posting a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 193 innings in 2013. He also had a very strong 2011 season, setting career bests with a 3.21 ERA and 216 innings. In the last two years, he has played for three different teams and hasn’t pitched well anywhere, posting ERA’s of 5.51, 7.04 and 5.61 at each stop, ending with the Red Sox in 2015. Boston signed him as a free agent last off-season for $9.5M, but after two down years in a row, Masterson will need to take a pay cut.
The Pirates could have an edge with him in that they have been known to turn pitchers around recently, so he could see them as a way to sign for one year and attempt to get back on track. The Pirates also need more depth in their rotation, as they only have six options for starters early in the year, so Masterson would still fit even with the additions of Vogelsong and Lobstein.