Bucs sign RHP Velasquez; LHP García agrees to deal (source)
The Pirates' offseason -- Bryan Reynolds saga aside -- has been defined by addition. Pittsburgh has not only added players, it has repeatedly expressed a desire to continue adding. On Dec. 6, the second day of the Winter Meetings, addition was once again the operation of the day.
The Pirates announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Vince Velasquez on Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not announced, but a source told MLB.com it's worth $3.15 million. Pittsburgh also agreed to a deal with lefty Jarlín García for one year and $2.5 million, with a $3.25 club option for 2024, a source told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed García's deal.
"I think we made some progress,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “Some steps to clear, but we feel like we made some progress, but we're still working at that. Still looking to add to the team on the pitching and position player side.”
Prior to the Winter Meetings, the Pirates had two spots open on the 40-man roster. The club selected left-hander Jose Hernandez from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday, and with the addition of Velasquez, the roster is full.
García, who turns 30 in January, posted a 3.74 ERA and a 4.27 FIP in 65 innings with the Giants in 2022. Since '20, García owns a 2.84 ERA and a 3.90 FIP with 138 strikeouts in 152 innings.
Velasquez, 30, had a 4.78 ERA and a 4.25 FIP across 75 1/3 innings, making nine starts and 18 relief appearances in 2022 for the White Sox. The righty began the season in Chicago's rotation, but he transitioned to the bullpen after a stint on the injured list in June.
García fills a positional need: a left-handed pitcher. Coming into the Winter Meetings, the Pirates didn’t have a single left-handed pitcher on their 40-man roster. In November, the Bucs outrighted Eric Stout -- he would elect free agency -- and designated Manny Bañuelos for assignment, removing the team’s only two lefties from the roster.
The signings of García and Velasquez are the latest moves in what has been an active winter for Pittsburgh. Along with the relievers, the Pirates acquired Ji-Man Choi from the Rays, signed Carlos Santana to a one-year, $6.725 million deal and traded Kevin Newman to the Reds for right-hander Dauri Moreta.
“We felt like coming out of this season, as difficult as it was, we now have a group of young players that have matriculated onto the Major League team, or started to, or are close to doing that as we look into next year,” Cherington said. “So relative to two years ago, the total number of players who are either touching our Major League roster or are getting close, we just see as much larger. We just feel like this is the time to start to complement that group.”
The Pirates’ bullpen for next season further takes shape with García and Velasquez in the mix. On Opening Day, the bullpen could feature García, Velasquez, David Bednar, Yerry De Los Santos, Colin Holderman, Wil Crowe, Duane Underwood Jr., Chase De Jong and Robert Stephenson. There will be other names in the mix as well, such as Moreta, Zach Thompson and Colin Selby, who was added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft.
“We're trying to make that competition as stiff as we can, and ... we'll continue to look to add,” Cherington said. “I feel like we have more than eight good candidates for our bullpen.”
Cherington noted that the Pirates did not intend to have so many right-handers, but he believes the distribution will balance out in the coming months.
"If we can pick and choose and the talent level is close to people, we'd like to continue to add left-handed options,” Cherington said.