Pirates Sign Lefty Pitcher Dan Runzler to Minor League Deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed left-handed pitcher Dan Runzler to a minor league contract. The 31-year-old has pitched parts of four seasons in the majors, appearing with the 2009-12 San Francisco Giants. He has a 3.86 ERA in 72.1 innings, with 78 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP in 89 big league games.

Runzler split the 2016 season between Triple-A Rochester (Twins) and the independent team Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. He had a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 innings over 20 appearances with Rochester before being released in June. With Sugar Land, he had a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings over 33 appearances, though that came with a 1.66 WHIP. It was the second consecutive season he was signed to a Triple-A contract, then finished the season with Sugar Land.

He will be Triple-A depth out of the bullpen, and a long shot to make the majors unless he can return to his earlier form. With the Giants, he held left-handed batters to a .212 average and a .545 OPS, but struggled against right-handed hitters.

The Pirates also re-signed player/coaches Kelson Brown, Gavi Nivar, Sammy Gonzalez and Adam Godwin. None of them are expected to play, though twice last year the Pirates were forced to activate a coach when they were short players. Drew Rossi pitched one game for the GCL Pirates, despite being an infielder as a player, while Miguel Perez was activated twice for Indianapolis as a backup catcher during the summer when the Pirates had numerous injuries behind the plate.

They sign these coaches as player/coaches so they can sit on the bench during games. A limit on the coaching staff in the dugout usually means they couldn’t be there, but listing them as players and putting them on the disabled list means they can be in the dugouts during games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks for the comments John. It’s not uncommon for the Pirates to take a chance on a lot of guys named Moe this time of year. There’s nothing to lose.

Dale O



John … I think the appropriate response to this signing is:
“The Cubs sign Jason Heyward and we sign Dan ‘freaking’ Runzler. NH is a joke. That’s why we’ll never win a World Series until we sell the the team to Mark Cuban.”


Heyward really hit the cover of the ball this year. The Pirates had players coming off the bench who hit better than Heyward. His contract is huge. I do not want to take anything away from his defense, but when you start paying someone half a mil per rbi….


Speaking of depth:

MLB Trade Rumors ‏@mlbtraderumors

Rangers Claim P Adrian Sampson From Mariners..

Darren G

Mariners gave up on him already?

Darren G

That it explains it.


Blew out his elbow? Must be a remnant of the Pirate TJ curse. 🙂


I’m assuming they tried to sneak him through waivers. I think he was out of options.


Who did we get for him?

Oh yeh….some Happless pitcher.


Getting Happ was an obviously stupid bottom fishing trade by a cheap team trying to pretend that it was a contender. Then Happ pitched a few meaningless games for the Pirates, retired and is now does informercials where he sells felt Elvis art for the low, low price of 19.95. But wait, if you buy it now…


Sampson up before Taillon and Kuhl?

I find that hard to believe. He was never that kind of prospect.


Ah, you expected them to convert Sampson to a reliever. Gotcha, I agree.


We could’ve used Sampson in 2016, but I’d have rather have had those two months of Happ in 2015, even IF we didn’t get past the WC.

Darren G

True. Although I would like to see the Pirates give their home grown relievers more Triple A opportunities. Would rather use a young player who has never had a chance to pitch in AAA or the majors as depth, since there is some potential upside to such players. Vet Pitchers like Runzler have no upside. I know every team signs at least a few vets for depth but the less the better in my view.




I don’t know where else to post this – great Simpson’s reference there on the right.


I made a Hank Scorpio reference and Handsome Pete reference this week. That show really started to decline right around season 11 I think. Now I tune in for the Halloween episodes and that’s about it.


I DVR them on FXX. I keep the classics and delete the rest. Maybe I’ll get back into the new episodes again. Pretty sure James Santelli’s avatar was Troy McClure. Maybe you could change yours to Frank Grimes. Just for a week.


That’s incredible. In that case change your Avitar to the Grumple. He was in a classic Gil episode. I went to college with a guy who somewhat resembled Mr. Burns with dark hair. He embraced it and to this day that’s his nickname – Burns.


Is not gonna help! So let’s get it out of the way, Bottom feeding, dumpster diving, owner is cheap…..

My actual comment, the sudden (is it?) shift in loading up on left on left only relievers is somewhat puzzling, any idea what has change. Votto, carpenter, Rizzo and company have been around for a while now.


Dumpster diving is something that a GM should do no matter how much an owner spends. The Pirates owner could save the world from terrorism and you would be upset because he did not spend enough money doing it.


The Brewers got Junior Guerra by “dumpster diving.” It is definitely wise to at the very least take a look at guys who cost very little to obtain.

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Draft Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments