Jonathan Sanchez, who this morning signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent, has a chance to compete for a spot in the starting rotation, Neal Huntington said this afternoon.
"We’ve talked to Jonathan about coming in and competing to make our club as a starter," Huntington said. "If we determine that we have five better, then he competes to make the club out of the bullpen."
That means Sanchez will compete with Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson for the final spot in the rotation behind A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens. Chris Leroux, Jeanmar Gomez, Andy Oliver and Justin Wilson are also in the mix but profile more as depth at this point. Wilson could be destined for the major league bullpen.
Huntington said the move was independent of the Pirates' negotiations with Francisco Liriano. He said the Pirates "are still engaged" with Liriano.
While with the Giants in 2010, Sanchez's best season, he pitched 1931/3 innings with a 3.07 ERA and 205 strikeouts, but still walked a league-high 96 batters.
"Certainly you look at that 2010 season, it shows what could be," Huntington said. "Our challenge is helping Jonathan get back to that, one, fully healthy, and two, helping him get back to that pitcher that has been successful at various points in his career."
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