UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review confirms that the Pirates are close to a minor league deal with Sanchez.
7:17 PM: According CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Pirates are close to a deal with free agent left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. No word on whether it will be a guaranteed major league deal.
Sanchez was a complete mess last season, posting an obscene 8.07 ERA and 45/53 K/BB ratio over 64 2/3 innings in 15 starts between the Royals and Rockies. The 30-year-old didn’t make another start after August 3 due to left biceps tendinitis. He finished with the highest single-season ERA in the majors since 2008 (min. 60 innings pitched) while his 2.29 WHIP was the highest in the majors since 2000.
Heyman hears that Sanchez is healthy and has worked all winter on his mechanics, so it’s worth a shot to bring him in as rotation insurance, especially if a deal with Francisco Liriano can’t be worked out. Despite Sanchez’s persistent control issues, one benefit of throwing from the left side is that he’ll continue to get chances.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.