Pirates Sign Justin Masterson to Minor League Deal

According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to sign 31-year-old right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson to a minor league deal. He pitched last season for the Boston Red Sox, where he made nine starts and nine relief appearances, posting a 5.61 ERA in 59.1 innings.

We have heard that the Pirates were connected to Masterson multiple times this off-season, so it looks like they finally were able to agree on a suitable deal. Masterson was once a top pitcher with the Cleveland Indians not that long ago. In 2014, he made 25 starts and threw 128.2 innings, with a 5.88 ERA and 116 strikeouts, so he has had two straight down seasons. Before that he had a 3.45 ERA in 2013 and averaged over 200 innings per season from 2011-13.

It’s a minor league deal, so there is no harm adding him to see if they can help him to get back where has was pre-2014. The Pirates are short on early season starter depth due to all of the prospects at Indianapolis, so there is a chance Masterson could see some time in that role with the Pirates. It will depend on how long it takes him to get stretched out, and of course, how well he pitches. It’s also possible he could provide relief depth.

UPDATE 6:05 PM: The Pirates announced the deal as official.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    April 16, 2016 2:05 am

    Thanks Neal for the fruits of your ridiculously pathetic offseason….the pitching staff is a train wreck

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    April 16, 2016 2:03 am

    Another pitcher no one else wanted. ..

  • Too bad NH just didn’t sign a real # 3 in the offseason. This move will most likely turn out to be useless.

  • BallHeadWonder
    April 14, 2016 8:11 pm

    Love it!! Shows NH is not going down without a fight!!! Plus another arm until JT comes up!!!

  • I like this- perfect reclamation pitcher, sinker baller- too bad we couldn’t have signed him 2 months ago…..

  • Good signing…nothing to lose, everything to gain from the Pirates perspective. I’m assuming he won’t be an active player until he gets stretched out a bit…I assume he’ll be slotted at Indy…it will be interesting to see whose spot he takes…WIlliams? Boscan? Taillon?

    • The old addage, you can never have too much pitching.

    • I can’t imagine any team sees Justin Masterson as a starter at this point in his career. There’s nothing in the Indy pen, so this probably doesn’t have any impact on roster decisions.

      • Can’t figure this one out?

      • Very well could be BP depth…but I don’t see him pitching until May. Lotsa things can happen between now and then, but, if he has anything left, someone will give him a SP shot. My fearless prediction…he pitches at Indy, his opt out date hits…he signs somewhere else as throws a few games this year.

    • Does he even go right to Indy, or spend a few weeks in EST?

    • No way this guy is still a SP. Slot him in the pen at Indy, get him ready for long relief.

  • The rotation in Indy is jam packed. Can’t figure it out but you would think that if they need a starter they bring that kid named after Irish whiskey.

  • Masterson’s has been a major league pitcher, but I don’t know if I’d say he’s been the kind of guy who would energize the Bucs. He’s more a guy who can keep a game from getting out of control for a few innings. Kinda like… Ryan Vogelsong, whom Baseball Reference has as the second most similar comparison!

  • I posted before the season about the overworking of this bullpen and thought the implosion would be August. I just missed the timeline!

  • I’m not panicking, but boy I enjoyed that 5-2 start, especially after last April’s start. We need to sweep the Brewers this weekend and then all is forgiven.

  • CaseyStengel
    April 14, 2016 4:22 pm

    Already…already…April 14th…it happens every sticking year, so I’m not too surprised, just baffled…10 games in and “fans” are panicking and questioning a winning formula…oh, well…tis the season of Pirates’ baseball and Raise it!

  • since Cole almost died today, it would be a good time to approach him with a long term contract that buys out his first FA year.

    I would say, “If you take one off of your head, you will still get 50+ million, with our deal. If not, how would you live off of your signing bonus? “

    • I would stay away from Cole. He is due for a TJ situation.

      • Zachary Asman
        April 14, 2016 5:54 pm

        Why? I mean, can you go into specifics? Is there any reason why he’s “due” as opposed to say, Locke?

        • I seen an MRI and it showed fraying around the lower microbial bisopey.

          • Interesting. IF it is true that you have seen this then you would, obviously, be in the medical field. I was under the impression that you are legally prohibited from sharing the information you just did.

          • Problem with the lower microbial bisopey?!? No doubt caused by cheap Nuttings refusing to pay for anti-microbial soap in the locker room.

          • What the he’ll are you talking about? Complete medical gibberish. And if you can’t speak grammatically correct English, I doubt you can read the MRI you “seen”.

    • How long would he live off 8 million?

      Long enough. Even if half of that is already gone (damn kid) and he put the rest of it in a safe financial situations that makes a modest but regular return he’d be fine.

      His grandkids might not have a hefty trust fund, but he’d live comfortably for many years.

      • piraterican21
        April 14, 2016 7:58 pm

        He comes from a family that is not hurting for money, that was one of the reason he turned down signing with Yankees when he was drafted out of HS. Yankees offered over a million dollars at the time.

    • Agree. I do not have his contract in front of me for years left, but being a Boras client, after this year, it may be best to trade him. There is no way he is resigning.

  • Interesting. Too bad this wasn’t done 2 months ago. I doubt he is really able to even provide depth before the end of May–when we would hope our prospects would be soon to arrive.

  • William Hritz
    April 14, 2016 3:47 pm

    Maybe with his experience at Cleveland he would have had more luck getting the Tigers out. Oh well, too late for that.

    • It’s very likely his price was too high back then because we heard multiple reports that as many as ten teams were interested in him in December. He probably didn’t read the market well, which is understandable if that many teams are inquiring. If he could have been signed to a minor league deal back then, I’m sure the Pirates would have signed him right away

  • I think it’s safe to say we’re panicking

    • i think it’s safe to say a minor league signing is pretty low risk

    • Panic would be a Major League deal. Getting depth on a minor league deal is no-risk and smart

      • Yeah, this isn’t a panic deal…but the Pirates do need to start looking/re-thinking their pitching strategy this season. Very little depth and very little solid options from the rotation through the middle-relievers.

    • Safe to say that the above DanielFcomment makes no sense at all.