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Pirates claim George Kontos off waivers from Giants

The Pirates acquired the Giants’ longest-tenured reliever on Saturday.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants Photo by Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have claimed right-handed reliever George Kontos off waivers from the Giants, per a club announcement on Saturday.

Kontos’ acquisition was the second waiver-wire move of the day for the Pirates. Earlier Saturday, they re-acquired infielder Sean Rodriguez, who signed with the Braves during the offseason after two seasons in Pittsburgh, for minor-league utility player Connor Joe.

The 32-year-old reliever, who is earning a $1.75 million salary this season, was placed on revocable trade waivers, and when the Pirates claimed him, the Giants opted to let him go. By relinquishing Kontos’ rights, San Francisco created a spot on the 25-man roster for Saturday’s starting pitcher, Chris Stratton, and a spot on the 40-man roster for newly-recalled third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Kontos has two years of arbitration remaining and will be under Pirates control through the 2019 season.

Kontos was the longest-tenured member of the Giants’ bullpen, having been acquired from the Yankees for backup catcher Chris Stewart at the beginning of the 2012 season. He was part of the San Francisco’s 2012 and 2014 World Series teams and has always been a bit of an interesting case, as he posted a 3.05 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 307 appearances with the Giants and had earned run averages below 3.00 in four of his six seasons in San Francisco. His peripheral numbers, however, have never been exceptionally impressive, as he struck out 252 hitters and walked 90 over 309.2 innings with the Giants.

Kontos, who has a 3.83 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP with 55 strikeouts and 17 walks in 51.2 innings this season, should provide a lift to a Pirates bullpen that has struggled to bridge the gap to dominant closer Felipe Rivero at times this season. Now that they’ve added both Kontos and Joaquin Benoit over the past week, they’ll be in a slightly better position to try to make a late run at winning the NL Central, where they currently sit five games behind the division-leading Cubs.