Pirates sign RHP Ryan Vogelsong to a 1-year contract

The Pittsburgh Pirates addressed a pressing need on Friday afternoon when the team announced that it had signed right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year contract. The terms of the deal haven’t been announced yet.

Before the day began, the Pirates only had four legitimate starting pitching options in the rotation with Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, and Jeff Locke. The team filled that void with the addition of veteran righty Ryan Vogelsong. The Pirates could (and should) still add another starter, but they at least have a full rotation for the time being.

Vogelsong is 38 years old and has spent the past five seasons pitching with the San Francisco Giants, winning two World Series during his time there. During his tenure with the Giants, Vogelsong had some up and down seasons, ranging from arguably his best season in the bigs in 2011 when he pitched to a 2.71 ERA across 28 starts, to arguably his worst season in 2013 when he only made 19 starts and pitched to a 5.73 ERA. Last season, Vogelsong held a 4.67 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP and made just 22 starts. Over the course of his career, Vogelsong has a 4.45 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP, has been both a starter and a reliever, and has had injuries.

Is Vogelsong the answer to the final rotation spot? It doesn’t seem likely, given comments following the signing from General Manager Neal Huntington:

Early speculation indicates that Vogelsong could hold a spot in the rotation just until Tyler Glasnow arrives in the middle of the season. After all, he could be playing in one of his final seasons. We also don’t know the terms of the deal yet, and if it’s a low-cost acquisition (which is likely), the Pirates will still have money to use elsewhere to better the club.

This seems to be the Pirates’ starting pitching reclamation project for the offseason. Vogelsong won’t be trying to set himself up for a big payday, but he has shown in the past that he can be a quality starter in this league. When Glasnow and/or Jameson Taillon eventually arrive, Vogelsong could be moved to the pen, where he has pitched before.

Many fans may also remember Vogelsong from his early days when he previously pitched for the Pirates from 2001 to 2006, when he was used primarily out of the bullpen and was generally a below-average pitcher.

It’s still early in the offseason, but hopefully the Pirates aren’t done adding to the starting rotation.

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Tyler Waite

Tyler is a data analyst by day and an aspiring sports writer by night. He's been a Pittsburgh sports fan his entire life, but has a special place for the Pirates. He is fascinated by the analytical side of the game, and wants to impart his analysis as both a writer and as a fan to Pirate fans everywhere.