The Pirates have signed veteran right handed reliever Jose Contreras to a minor league deal. He reported to camp earlier today.
Contreras is coming off back-to-back seasons that have ended prematurely due to elbow problems, the latter resulting in Tommy John surgery, undergoing the procedure on June 20 last year. Bill Brink reported that he’s thrown off a mound three times so far as part of his rehabilitation process, however it would be unlikely if he will be seen in a Pirates uniform prior to June – given the usual 12 month rehab schedule.
The Phillies converted Contreras into a full time reliever in 2010 and the results were positive. He had a 3.34 ERA over 56.2 innings with 57 strikeouts and just 16 walks. His performance was supported by FIP (3.27) and xFIP (3.29); however his 2.87 Skill-Interactive ERA indicates that he pitched better than his ERA shows (SIERA attempts to take balls in play into account and Contreras had an on-the-unlucky-side .318 BABIP).
Since 2010, Contreras has suffered with elbow issues. He only pitched 14 innings for the Phillies in 2011 and was one out away from reaching that mark in 2012. It’s not really a situation that provides much excitement – and that’s prior to factoring in that Contreras will turn 42, maybe prior to completing his rehab. That said it’s still a no-risk situation for the Pirates – with the potential of Contreras returning to his 2010 levels and becoming a strong bullpen option for Clint Hurdle.