Saturday, February 3, 2007
Pirates sign Sanchez, add Kolb to deep bullpen
PITTSBURGH -- National League batting champion Freddy
Sanchez chose not to go to arbitration and agreed to a $2.75
million, one-year contract Saturday with the suddenly active
The Pirates, who made almost no player moves for the first 3½
months of their offseason, signed former Brewers All-Star reliever
Dan Kolb to a minor-league contract.
Sanchez, a reserve infielder when last season started but the
Pirates' 25th NL batting champion when it ended, gets a big raise
over the $342,000 he made last season. He sought $3.1 million in
salary arbitration while the Pirates offered $2.15 million.
Given that Sanchez hit .344 during a virtually slump-free season
and drove in 85 runs despite hitting only six homers, he appeared
to have a good chance of winning an arbitration case that was to be
argued Feb. 8.
Despite saying he wasn't worried the club would try to downplay
his accomplishments during the arbitration hearing, the 29-year-old
Sanchez chose to settle in advance. The Pirates' only remaining
arbitration-eligible player is second baseman Jose Castillo, whose
hearing is set Feb. 14.
"You've got to have thick skin through this process and I don't
take anything personal," said Sanchez, who led the NL with 53
doubles. "I understand what's going to go on."
Sanchez's .344 average was five points higher than Florida's
Miguel Cabrera. Sanchez's average was the highest for a full season
by a Pirates player since Roberto Clemente hit .345 in 1969.
The Pirates began pursuing the 32-year-old Kolb after they dealt
closer Mike Gonzalez to the Braves on Jan. 17 for first baseman
Adam LaRoche, Kolb's former teammate in Atlanta.
Salomon Torres (3-6, 3.28 ERA, 12 saves) finished up last season
as the Pirates' closer after Gonzalez sat out the final five-plus
weeks with a sore left elbow. But Torres often pitches better in
the second half of a season than the first, and adding Kolb gives
the Pirates some protection should Torres not pitch well in April
The right-handed Kolb, who turns 32 in March, was 2-2 with one
save and a 4.84 ERA in 53 appearances as a Brewers setup reliever
last season. He had a 2.75 ERA after the All-Star break, making 14
consecutive scoreless appearances at one point. Kolb allowed only
eight runs over his final 25 appearances.
Kolb had 60 saves in 67 chances with a 2.55 ERA as the Brewers'
closer in 2003 and 2004, making the NL All-Star team in 2004. But
Kolb struggled after signing with Atlanta in 2005, going 3-8 with a
5.93 ERA and blowing saves in seven of 18 chances.
Kolb was seeking a spot on a 40-man roster, but the Pirates
currently don't have an opening. Instead, they agreed to allow him
to become a free agent if he doesn't make the team out of spring
Kolb is expected to join Torres and setup men Matt Capps and
John Grabow, Damaso Marte in what looks to be one of the NL's
deepest bullpens even without Gonzalez.
In 10 career appearances at PNC Park, Kolb has four saves and
hasn't allowed a run in 10 1-3 innings, permitting six hits,
striking out five and walking four.