Jonathan Sanchez officially signs with Pirates

Dustin Bradford

The Pirates have officially signed Jonathan Sanchez, but don't expect to see much of him this year.

The Pirates have officially signed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez to a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite.

Sanchez was, as you've probably heard, a train wreck last year, but this is just a minor-league contract, and, assuming Francisco Liriano actually does sign and ends up being able to pitch, the Pirates should have enough depth that they won't have to worry much about the possibility of using Sanchez in the rotation for an extended period unless he proves he deserves it.

There was no way any team was going to sign Sanchez to anything but a minor-league deal, but Sanchez's very high strikeout rates (he's at 9.10 K/9 for his career) and relative youth (he's 30) give him more upside than the standard NRI. He also has the advantage of not having been tried much in the bullpen, where his stuff (he only averaged 89 MPH with his fastball last year, but he's been as high as an average of 91.7 MPH in 2009, and his slider was once a plus pitch as well) could play up. He's also held lefties to a .211/.311/.353 line in his career.

All that is pretty speculative, of course, and isn't likely to matter much if Sanchez's velocity doesn't come back. It would also help if he could improve his control a little. But you don't get perfect pitchers on minor-league contracts. Ultimately, Sanchez is probably mostly just an arm Neal Huntington liked, and I doubt he'll be treated as more than that.

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