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Pirates to sign Justin Masterson to minor-league deal

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that has seemed inevitable for about, oh, two years now, the Pirates finally agreed to terms with righty Justin Masterson to a minor-league deal, as Jon Heyman tweets. The Bucs had reportedly also shown interest in Masterson back in December, so it's not surprising they've finally got him in the fold.

Masterson is young-ish at 31, has been an extreme ground-ball pitcher in the past, and has a fairly recent track record of success, having had very good seasons in Cleveland's rotation in 2011 and 2013. Since then, he's lost about four miles per hour of velocity, throwing his fastball in the high 80s in Boston last year. He had shoulder surgery in September. If the Bucs believe they can help Masterson get back to where he was three years ago, he's about the most obvious reclamation project you could think of, particularly given that the back of their rotation is so shaky.

Of course, there's reason to wonder whether the old Masterson will ever be back after two bad seasons, a significant velocity drop, and arm problems, but on a minor-league deal, it can't hurt for he and the Bucs to find out. He's a project at this stage, though, and it might take a couple months for him to help, if he ever does.