Pirates Sign RHP Juan Minaya to a Minor League Deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed veteran right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya to a minor league deal. The 32-year-old pitched six games for the Minnesota Twins in 2022, his sixth season in the majors.

Minaya originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. It took him eight years to make his big league debut with the 2016 Chicago White Sox. In four seasons with Chicago, he compiled a 6-4, 3.93 record in 128.1 innings, with 142 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP. He saw some work as a closer during that time, picking up ten saves.

Minaya didn’t pitch during the 2020 season, though he played winter ball before and after that shortened season. He spent half of 2021 in the majors with the Twins, where he had a 2.48 ERA, 43 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 40 innings over 29 appearances. His big league time in 2022 was limited to 9.2 innings over six games in the middle of the year. 

Minaya had an outstanding winter performance this year. He had a 1.26 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14.1 innings over 15 appearances in the Dominican, where the league was loaded with talent this off-season.

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.

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Chad Kuhl just signed a minor league deal as well with the Nationals!


With what’s going on with his wife, I’m really rooting hard for him to make it onto team and pitch well for them.


There’s still an unbelievable amount of bullpen depth in the free agent market, which is surprising. And nobody is selling for much. Wily Peralta just signed a minor league deal with the Nationals after a season that saw him post a 2.58 ERA.



That’s because he was extremely lucky. He struck out 32 and walked 24 in 38 innings.


He still has a history though as being a capable starter and has been relatively strong out of the bullpen. But yes he does have a history of high BB rates.

Wilbur Miller

Something about how teams are managing 40-man rosters now, I guess.

These guys are almost all looking at MiL deals. On a MiL deal, the Pirates could bring 50 relievers to camp. There’s no downside. They can get innings in MiL exhibitions at Pirate City. MOAR RELEEEEVERZ!!


I also see this as partially the trickle down effect of starters not pitching as deep into games anymore. Teams need more multi-inning guys in their bullpen thus leaving a lot of more traditional relievers on the open market.


Potentially a pretty shrewd signing. I just have a thing for dudes with a plus change, and Minaya’s got one. Throws it pretty hard – 88-ish, which is only 6mph separation from his 4-seam, but they work well in tandem. Against LH hitters it’s basically just the 2 pitches. Against righties he mixes in a slider that isn’t very good – gets hit relatively hard with a high launch angle. Could be pretty effective at PNC since his weakest offering is less likely to find the seats in LF.


A plus change works at any level of professional baseball, and it does not hurt to have guys like Minaya on the staff to help others, especially young pitchers, in their development of the pitch.

Everybody knows pitchers who have 70 ratings on their Fastball, but very few bother to look further to see the rating on their Change-up, if they even throw a change-up. I think it tells a lot about the overall development of the kid – is he a thrower or a pitcher?


Sounds good! IF (and a big if) he is what he showed in the DR, he would fill that bill for the LH reliever to pair with Bednar at the end of the bullpen. I know Minaya is not a LH, but it sounds like his pitches work better against lefties. Plus, he has high-leverage experience. See what he has got in spring training, then work him in at the end of the pen. One of the young guys we were counting on to make the team on opening day who have options might be best to percolate down on the farm for a bit…We could cycle through Underwood and DeJong for 1/2 season, then work some of those young guys in after the deadline. Win-win-save Bednar’s arm and lengthen that pen for the good!


I just have a thing for dudes with a plus change!
That’s me to A tee. Something inside of me gets big when I read about a great change.


I see what you did there.

Wilbur Miller

I was about to post that his big pitch appears to be a change, but you’ve got that and more here. Generally speaking, it always seems best not to load the pen totally with FB/SL guys, so this looks good.

Wilbur Miller

I see the beat writers have yet to pick up on this.


The all are watching NHL and NFL all star crap??


Hmmm I actually don’t see why he wasn’t able to secure a ML deal with anyone…? Sounds like he’s had some successful seasons, including his most recent season with any significant innings (2021) and is showing good stuff in winter ball. What makes this guy categorically less alluring than say, Duane Underwood?
In any event, seems like one of the few minor league contracts that actually has a chance to turn into something useful for us.


I was wondering the same thing.


The season is saved???


Not a bad MiLB deal signing to see if the winter league numbers were a mirage or not. Kick the tires in spring training and nothing lost if he does not turn out.

Wilbur Miller

Well, this is about what I had in mind in the roundtable. No downside, credible depth option.


And maybe the death knell for DUJr?

Wilbur Miller

I think DUJ is gonna have to smash Shelton’s entire supply of bourbon to get off the roster.

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