The Pittsburgh Pirates signed starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, Wednesday. The move adds depth to a rotation that could see inexperienced starters, such as 25-year-old right-hander Kyle McPherson and 25-year-old left-hander Jeff Locke, receive significant time.
Sanchez, 30, was once a promising prospect and had a bright future ahead of him. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 2 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization in 2006, behind only Tim Lincecum.
Injuries have plagued Sanchez throughout his career in the majors, which has, at times, coincided with his alarming lack of control.
In 2010, Sanchez led the league in walks with 96, while still managing a respectable 13-9 record and a solid 3.07 ERA.
Sanchez was then traded to Kansas City as part of the Melky Cabrera deal before the start of the 2012 season. He lasted only 53.1 innings with the Royals, as his 1-6 record and 7.76 ERA were the worst marks of his career.
Sanchez had a brief stint with the Colorado Rockies, after being designated for assignment by the Royals and subsequently traded. In all, 2012 saw Sanchez post more walks (53) than strikeouts (45), which gave the veteran another spell in the minors.
The Pirates deal with Sanchez is laced with the hope that Sanchez can find his form and potentially push for a bottom-of-the-rotation spot.
There was some uncertainty that this signing would all but eliminate any hope that the Francisco Liriano deal would get finalized. But MLB.com's Tom Singer reported Tuesday that general manager Neal Huntington still has intentions of bringing both pitchers in.
The added competition would ideally push the younger pitchers while still putting Liriano and Sanchez in lower-pressure roles to get back into major-league form. Spring training will provide the venue for what is shaping up to potentially be a battle for the final spot in the rotation, pending the Liriano deal.