Although spring training is officially under way, there are still players finding homes with new teams for the 2013 season, including pitcher Jose Contreras, who was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
The right-handed Contreras’ signing, which was a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, was announced via the team’s official Twitter feed:
The @pirates have signed RHP Jose Contreras to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) February 24, 2013
He defected from his native Cuba and signed a $32 million contract with the Yankees in the winter prior to the 2003 season.
He began his major league career as a starter but has pitched exclusively in relief in recent years.
The best season of his career came in 2005 with the White Sox, when he went 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 32 starts.
Last season, he appeared in just 17 games with the Phillies, going 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA.
During his career he has a combined record of 78-67 with a 4.55 ERA in 292 games (175 starts).
CBSSports.com’s Dayn Perry wrote that Contreras has missed major chunks of the past two seasons because of elbow surgeries. He appeared in just 34 total games during that time. He will still be rehabbing his most recent procedure during camp with the Pirates.
If Contreras can bounce back from his most recent injury, he may be able to earn a role as a setup man in the Pittsburgh bullpen.
He has produced much better results in relief throughout his career, posting a 3.78 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in that role. By contrast, he has just a 4.63 ERA and 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter.
The Pirates are seeking their first winning season since 1992. Adding a veteran like Contreras is a good gamble that could pay off if he is healthy and productive.
Statistics via BaseballReference