Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Pitcher Ryan Vogelsong


Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday that they have signed free agent pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year contract.

Vogelsong was a Pirate for 5 seasons from 2001-2006 but after a five-year journey through Japan and the minor leagues, he spent the past five seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

In his time with the Pirates, Vogelsong was used primarily as a reliever and he struggled in that role; over five seasons, he posted a 10-19 record with a 6.00 ERA in 280.1 innings while striking out about one less batter (6.2) per nine innings than in his 7 years with the Giants (7.0).

Vogelsong showed potential as a starter when he returned to the majors, winning 13 and 14 games in his first two seasons. In 2011, he was even selected to the All-Star game and posted a 2.71 ERA. His other numbers don’t look as good (struck out 7 and walked 3 per nine between 2011-12) but his ability to get groundballs kept his ERA low and helped the Giants eventually win a World Series.

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I haven’t seen anything about the salary yet but I’d imagine this is going to be a cheap signing. Vogelsong will turn 39 next season and hasn’t really kept up his All-Star performance. In the past 3 seasons, Vogelsong has gone 21-30 with a 4.65 ERA while allowing 1.1 home runs and 3.3 walks per nine innings. However, he had most of his success in a pitcher’s ballpark in San Francisco and perhaps he can replicate that success in another pitcher’s park like PNC Park.

Fangraphs projects Vogelsong to have a WAR of 0.6 next season which doesn’t seem like a lot. But if they get a good deal on his contract and he can be a solid 4 or 5 starter or at least make spot starts, he’s shown he can win games and this could be a great value signing. I don’t think the Pirates see him as a vital part of the future but a bit of low risk/high reward insurance until the prospects are ready for the majors.