Jonathan Sanchez is close to a deal with the #pirates. word is, he's healthy and worked all winter on mechanics.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 4, 2013
There are two ways to react to what would almost certainly be a minor league deal for Jonathan Sanchez. One is to shrug and say, "Well, I'd rather have Jonathan Sanchez in camp on a minor league deal for a tryout than Brian Bass. If Oliver Perez can become an effective LOOGY four years after ceasing to be a relevant big league pitcher it can happen to anyone." The second is to freak out and draw conclusions about Francisco Liriano's deal and/or health.
I think it's safe to sit back and assume that the only way that Jonathan Sanchez ends up in Pittsburgh on Opening Day is if he pitches his way there, Liriano or no Liriano, so let's take a second and discuss the possibilities of that happening. Once upon a time, Sanchez was mentioned practically in the same breath as Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as pitchers that were going to bring the Giants back to relevancy in the post-Barry Bonds world. The mention of Oliver Perez in the first paragraph was not an accident; Sanchez has always racked up strikeouts as a fastball/slider guy, but control has always been an issue for him and besides 2010, nothing has ever really clicked for him.
Since 2010, things have been brutal for Sanchez. His walk rate jumped to 5.9/9 innings in 2011 and he missed time on the disabled list with a couple of injuries. That winter, he got traded to the Royals for Melky Cabrera. He was terrible with the Royals and got traded to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie, who had been completely vanquished by Coors Field. He again struggled with health and only made 15 starts, he struck out 45 and walked 53 in 64 2/3 innings. His average fastball speed dipped to 90 mph.
All of which is to say that I'm all for bringing talented-but-busted guys in on minor league deals and the Pirates do have a valid need for a lefty out of the bullpen because Tony Watson is not great and Justin Wilson is unproven, but Sanchez has a lot to prove before I'd think he was worth more than an invite to camp.