The Pirates have signed veteran pitcher Jose Contreras to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, according to a tweet from the team. The 41-year-old Cuban righty has thrown just 23⅔ innings over the past two seasons thanks to injuries.
His 2012 season ended in June after he suffered a complete
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Prior to his defection from
The battle over Contreras famously resulted in Red Sox president Larry Lucchino calling the Yankees "the Evil Empire" prior to the 2003 season, a nickname Yankees fans embraced enthusiastically.
Contreras never really managed to live up to that early hype, however, apart from his strong 2005 season. He went 69-62 in 175 starts with the Yankees, White Sox and Rockies and posted a 4.63 ERA.
The Phillies moved Contreras to the bullpen after signing him in 2010 and he was a solid late inning reliever for them that season, tossing 56⅔ innings with a 3.34 ERA and recording thirteen holds and four saves.
The Pirates will give Contreras a chance to prove that his elbow is healed and that he can be a useful part of their remade bullpen. Pittsburgh traded closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox earlier this off-season and received former Astros closer Mark Melancon in return.
Contreras will get a chance to join Melancon, Jason Grilli and promising youngster Jared Hughes in a Bucs bullpen that has some interesting talent for the late innings, but a need for depth.
A healthy Contreras could give them that extra depth in 2013.