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Pirates sign Juan Nicasio

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have made another addition to their pitching staff, signing right-hander Juan Nicasio to a one-year contract. The team's official announcement did not include the terms of the deal, but Ken Rosenthal has reported on Twitter that it will be worth $3 million. Nicasio had earned $2.3 million in 2015 in his first season as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, following an up-and-down career with the Colorado Rockies. You may recall Nicasio being stretchered off the field during a game in 2011, when he was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Washington's Ian Desmond and sustained a fracture to the C-1 vertebra of his neck.

After spending much of his career as a starting pitcher, Nicasio moved to the bullpen nearly full-time last season (he made one fill-in start as part of a bullpen game during a doubleheader on June 2, pitching two innings), and he posted by far the best numbers of his career, with a 3.86 ERA (with a 3.87 xFIP) and a 65/32 K/BB in 58 1/3 innings. Working in shorter stints in relief also allowed him to increase his fastball velocity to an average of 95.1 MPH, where it had mainly been in the 92-93 range in prior seasons. His breaking ball is a slider, and he has moderate groundball tendencies and some issues with command of his pitches.

It is interesting to note that the team's announcement of the signing quoted Neal Huntington as saying that Nicasio has "the pitch repertoire and versatility to fill a variety of roles on our pitching staff." That suggests that the Pirates may see Nicasio as a possible option for the starting rotation, rather than as the pure reliever that many might have expected. If Nicasio is successful in 2016, the Pirates will be able to tender him an offer for 2017 and take him through arbitration, since he only has four-plus years of service time.

The Pirates' 40-man roster stood at 38 prior to the signing, so no further moves were required in order to make the signing official.