Pirates Sign Ryan Church

The Pirates officially signed outfielder Ryan Church to a one-year, $1.5MM deal today.  The deal includes another $1.32MM in plate appearance incentives.  With 600 plate appearances, Church would slightly top his '09 salary of $2.8MM.  The Pirates can retain Church beyond 2010 as an arbitration-eligible player, if they choose.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the Pirates' extensive conversations with Church early Monday.  Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports followed a few hours later saying the sides were closing in on a deal.  Monday evening Kovacevic reported an agreement had been reached, and yesterday he added contract details.

Kovacevic says Church matches the Pirates' criteria in that he bats left-handed, plays strong defense, and could jump into an everyday role if necessary.  Kovacevic wrote Friday that the Pirates' outlook on Rick Ankiel dimmed due to Ankiel's expectation of an everyday job.  In a statement, Pirates GM Neal Huntington said Church "has the skills and tools to be a valuable player off the bench and could play regularly if the situation so dictates."

Church, 31, hit .273/.338/.384 in 399 plate appearances for the Braves and Mets last year.  Shipped to the Braves in July for Jeff Francoeur, Church's season included a sore hamstring, hyper-extended elbow, and back spasms.  The Braves designated him for assignment in December when Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration.  Church was non-tendered a few days later.

The Cardinals were the other club known to have Church on the radar.

81 Responses to Pirates Sign Ryan Church Leave a Reply

  1. $1574266 5 years ago

    I would like this move for the Bucs. Church would not have to start everyday, but would still get a good number of AB’s. I believe he would be the fourth OF, have Garrett Jones start in RF and Jeff Clement at 1B. Since Clement is not a very strong defender you can have Jones go to first and Church in RF late in games, and he would probably get a start or two a week in right with Jones again going back to first.

  2. bbxxj 5 years ago

    This would be really solid pickup for the Pirates. I really appreciated Church while he was on the Braves. He plays great defense in RF and has enough range/arm to play CF on occation even though you likely don’t want him there alot. His bat is all around pretty solid but he doesn’t really stand out in any phase.

    He just plays hard and is a great off the bench and has enough value defensively augmenting his bat to be at least an average starter. You just can’t count on him as a starter because of his injury history.

  3. $1574266 5 years ago

    I agree with you 100%. Get rid of Moss. I don’t know what NH was thinking when he did that Bay deal, because we got nothing for him. Lets hope Bryan Morris becomes a Cy Young Winner(Highly doubt it). I’d rather see Raynor then Moss as well.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought in Valverde. He has to drop his asking price, and if it goes down to like 4-5 mil with some incentives, I believe they could jump in.

    • tchemmis 5 years ago

      Valverde would cost us a draft pick NH would not do that but I love your comment on getting rid of Moss! I wonder about Raynor now!

    • Suzysman 5 years ago

      “I don’t know what NH was thinking when he did that Bay deal, because we got nothing for him”Andy LaRoche was worth 2.5 WAR last year, his first full season in the bigs. Jason Bay has been worth 2.9 and 3.5 the last two and overall 4.1 WAR away from Pitts under the team control they had left. LaRoche has already provided half the win value the Pirates traded away, with 4 more years to come. They didnt exactly get “nothing” for Bay, and it can be argued they did pretty well in the move.Maybe it isnt as flashy a return as some Pirates fans seem to have wanted, but that doesnt make it a bad deal at all.

  4. thedutchbucco 5 years ago

    I Rather see they go after Ryan Garko.. younger and in my opinion more quality and power..

    He would also accept a bench role and makes the team stronger, not that i have anything against church.. always better then Moss.. He had his chance and failed miserably..

    And about Valverde.. it would be a positive thing after the Capps-Debacle..
    at least it would be a upgrade.. and win the Tour de France finally 😉

    Go Bucs

  5. $1574266 5 years ago

    Garko doesn’t fit what we need. We need someone that plays strong defense and bats left handed. Personally, I would rather have Rick Ankiel, but I don’t mind Church at all.

  6. $1529282 5 years ago

    Blah. I was hoping he’d end up as the Twins’ 4th outfielder. Great pickup for the Pirates though, if it happens. Tremendous RF defense, solid in left, has shown the ability to be at least capable in center.

    Respectable career slugging and ISO, a career walk rate over 9%… great great guy to have off the bench and as mentioned, if injuries occur he’s the type of player who can perform in an everyday role (see: Mets 2008 pre-concussion). Not someone you want to bank on as an everyday guy right now, but a good fallback option.

  7. Guest 5 years ago

    He won’t start will he? L-Millz, McCutch and Jones…so he’s a backup? On the Pirates? Poor guy…

    • bbxxj 5 years ago

      I think he gets alot of time in RF with Jones at 1B until Clement or Alverez is ready to take over at 1B.

      • bucs_lose_again 5 years ago

        Alvarez is still going to be the Pirates primary 3rd baseman when he arrives. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets reps at 1st when he finally gets called up, but when Iwamura is ultimately dealt at the deadline, I expect Andy to make the transition to 2nd with Alvarez going back to 3rd. I hope so at least. His value will be far greater at 3rd if he can show some kind of promise with the glove.

  8. Jiujitsu411420 5 years ago

    Glad to see the pirates snatch him up be4 the cards did. He is gonna be a great 4th outfielder for the bucs. The whole central is starting to look a little stronger. It’s gonna tighten up the division quite a bit.

  9. Redbirds16 5 years ago

    Bucs and Cards getting in a bidding war over Ryan Church with the team left out getting Ankiel. Absurd. Church would likely get more playing time in Pittsburgh though as Ludwick, Rasmus, and Holliday figure to start pretty much every day.

  10. $1574266 5 years ago

    Clement will be the opening day 1B. I’m not sure but I believe he is out of options. Church will be the 4th OF, with a lot of AB’s

  11. Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

    Good borderline 3rd/4th OF.

  12. Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

    We still need a closer badly, though. I think the Bucs will sign Dotel, which is an improvement over Crapps.

  13. Let us just hope Church gets more playing time than Hinske did.

  14. JerseyShoreShawn 5 years ago

    I find myself becoming an Omar Minaya defender but this warrants pointing out.
    He traded Church straight up, in division for Jeff Francoeur. Now that means ATL must have a pretty low opinion of Frenchy these days but come on give Omar some credit where credit is due. Church is signing as a 4th OF for the Pirates. Francoeur is our everyday RFer and I wouldn’t be suprised to see .280/20/95 out of him.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      I think by and large, most people would be shocked if Francoeur put up those numbers. Though hey, he finally avoided the 100 strikeout mark on a season… granted he also posted a solid 3.7%BB to go along with it.

      I can’t see Francoeur doing much more than about .270/.305/.420, but I haven’t ever been sold on Frenchy’s upside.

      Either way, agreed that Minaya came out ahead in terms of production on this one.

      • JerseyShoreShawn 5 years ago

        If he hits ahead of Molina (or any catcher) he will see more walks to set up double plays. I am most confident in his RBI potential, given the improved lineup ahead of him this season. Delgado-Frenchy-Molina (6-7-8) would be really advantageous the him. HoJo has been in his head all winter, he has said he is relaxed for the first time in years.
        Mark it down .280/20/95. I will eat my words in Sept if I am wrong.

        • $1529282 5 years ago

          Yeah but every player goes into every season saying they “haven’t felt this good in ages,” or something along those lines. It’s tough to put much stock in a statement like that.

          Delgado and Molina aren’t even on your team yet, and even if they do end up there, I doubt people will pitch around Francoeur just to get to Molina. Even when teams try to pitch around Francoeur, he’ll usually help them out by swinging at something a foot out of the zone.

          And are you really predicting 95 RBI out of the #7 slot in the lineup for the Mets? I realize Reyes and Beltran will be back, but that’s a lofty expectation not only for Francoeur, but for their offense as a whole.

          • vtadave 5 years ago

            Yes he is. Other Mets predictions:

            David Wright is the Wright of old and goes for .330/35/130
            Jose Reyes steals 60 bases and plays in 162 games
            Mike Pelfrey steps up and posts a 3.10 ERA in 205 innings
            Fernando Martinez gets enough at-bats to win the NL ROY
            Ike Davis joins the Mets in June after Delgado gets hurt and hits .320 with 20 homers the rest of the way.

          • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

            The Mets only have one legitimate starting pitcher, and the remaining free agents are only #4-5 types. They will be starting Francoeur as well as Bengie Molina, and don’t have a 1B. Luis Castillo has a good OBP but otherwise is nothing to write home about.

            That doesn’t look like a recipe for success to me.

          • NL_East_Rivalry 5 years ago

            Why stop there. Reyes could hit 20 HR’s and play in 163 games instead. You see, he gets loaned to another team for a day after one of his games, in return for a prospect.

        • bbxxj 5 years ago

          A Fenchy-Molina-Pitcher is a strikeout pitcher’s dream half inning. They could throw nine pitches outside the zone and come away with three outs.

          • bbxxj,

            I have a question I’d like to ask you, Is there a good place to reach you? Other than here obviously

    • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

      Er, just because Minaya decided that Francoeur is a starting RF doesn’t mean that he’s a starting-quality RF.

  15. JerseyShoreShawn 5 years ago

    Doesn’t Tony Larusa cry when he talks about Ankiel? He will be back with the Cards once Boris is done ruining the kids winter making him think he is going to be much richer than he will actually become. Akiel could be a pitching coach in a high school somewhere. He beat the odds. Rick, go sign with the team that gave you a shot to come back as a hitter. Don’t look a gift horse in the a-hole agent’s mouth.

  16. mochajoe 5 years ago

    Church provides good depth…he’s simply not an everyday player, but should be adequate as part of a platoon…he has a very strong and accurate arm from RF

  17. bravesfan 5 years ago

    Good luck keeping him healthy. He is SOFT! I hated him when he was with the Braves.

    • DarthBusey 5 years ago

      He’s not soft. The Mets really effed him up the past two years.

      He’s a very good 4th outfielder, and I think he’s probably a better player than Garrett Jones over the course of a full season.

      • $1574266 5 years ago

        I think your a moron for posting that comments. Jones is a very good player who will hit around .300, 25-30 HR, and 90-100 RBI. Plus he is an excellent baserunner. He will steal 20 bags this year. Have you ever even seen him play? I knew how good he was in Spring Training last year, and knew how good he would be if he just got a shot.

        • Deviation 5 years ago

          Jones also spent 4 years in AAA and never put up numbers to match what he did with the Pirates. He might turn out to be a decent player in the long run but it’s highly unlikely he maintains that level of production.

          The Twins must be hurting right now, seeing the production Jones put up last year while Delmon Young was hacking away at the plate.

          • $1574266 5 years ago

            You can’t make an argument that just because he didn’t put up numbers in the minors doesn’t mean he wont do it in the bigs. Are you gonna tell me that anyone that puts up numbers in the bigs, put up the same numbers in the minors? That’s not a very good argument

          • bjsguess 5 years ago

            In this case, yes I will make that argument.

            The guy has almost 4200 PA’s over a minor league career that began at 18 and looks to have ended at 28. His career OPS over that time is 762. The most HR’s hit topped out at 31 (most of it in AA back in 2004). He’s never stolen more than 14 bases.

            So, the question is which Garrett Jones is the real deal. The guy with 4200 PA’s in the minors or the guy with 358 PA’s last year in the bigs?

            The reality is that few people ever follow a career path like Jones and make it. Plenty of players come up, have a huge half-season, and then fall off the face of the earth. If you are betting on Jones to buck the 4200 PA trend then power to you. I would love to have you in my fantasy baseball league.

          • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

            Garrett Jones’ minor league production in 2008 and 2009 was impressive even if the play prior to that left a lot to be desired. Some guys just develop late. I don’t expect a superstar, but he can play better than someone like Adam LaRoche for sure.

        • $1529282 5 years ago

          Jones was given a couple of shots with the Twins and looked completely lost at the Major League level. I’d be surprised if he replicated his 2009 success. He could still be an average player, but the .300/.400/.475 line you’re imagining with 25 HR and 20 steals isn’t going to happen.

          There’s plenty of players who look like the real deal for a few months and then crash back down to reality. I’ve seen Jones play, probably equally as much as you, and his actual talent level is probably somewhere between his Minnesota and Pittsburgh numbers.

          • $1574266 5 years ago

            Lets re-visit this at the end of the year

          • bucs_lose_again 5 years ago

            I love your enthusiasm, brother, but let’s not pencil those kind of crazy numbers for Garrett just yet. You can’t tell me that just because the guy had a good Spring last year that you really envisioned him having the kind of year that he had last year. If so, you should probably look into a job as a scout of some sort. The fact that Jones didn’t show too much down time with the bat at any point last year shows that the pitchers in the NL weren’t necessarily finding a big hole in his swing and that he may not be a fluke, but you can’t just dismiss the fact that the numbers he put up in the minors don’t reflect favorably on him being the consistent power threat that he was last year. Having said all that, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. If he can replicate last year’s success, and Doumit can somehow get between 400-500 AB’s, the Bucs may have a decent offense this year.

          • $1574266 5 years ago

            Maybe I should be lol. I am a baseball geek. I predict a lot of things. I’m not gonna toot my own horn, but I do get it right a lot. I don’t always though. Last year I had Andy LaRoche hitting 20 HR, look how that turned out.

          • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

            77 at bats aren’t enough to write a guy off.

        • DarthBusey 5 years ago

          Deviation pretty much said it all. Garrett Jones is a AAAA player who had a nice little run in 2009. He has a career .265/.321/.463 line in over 2400 at-bats in AAA. He’s going to be 29 this year. Try to temper your enthusiasm, AndrewMcCutchen22.

  18. tchemmis 5 years ago

    so the bench looks like Raynor, Vasquez, Young, Church?

  19. Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

    And Bobby Crosby (the team’s worst signing for 2010).

    • vtadave 5 years ago

      Granted that Crosby hasn’t been very useful since 2005, but if a team’s worst signing is a one-year $1 million deal, then it’s been a decent offseason.

    • tchemmis 5 years ago

      good call I for got about the other Crosby in Pittsburgh . . . so someone is not making the team . . . Vasquez would be my vote, but more likely Young

      • $1574266 5 years ago

        It will be Vazquez that’s out not young. They are still high on young. He is a very good pinch hitter.

        • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

          Vazquez should be cut, but he is getting the most salary and the Pirates don’t want to dump it. Still the Bucs should realize he’s a sunk cost at this point.

  20. Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

    Means it’s been a cheap offseason…

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      Would you rather have signed Brandon Lyon for three years and $15MM? :)

      • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

        No. I guess there weren’t too many FAs this year that could have made a difference outside of Holliday/Lackey and Bay. Except for Beltre, who is a great fit if not for our logjam at 3B.

  21. $1574266 5 years ago

    Lets do it then. What league do you play fantasy in? Put your money where your mouth is. This was suppose to be a reply ti bjsguess. Come on bj, step up.

    • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

      Jones is picked on average 151st overall at Mock Draft Central. That’s not bad value at all for a 20 HR/10 SB minimum (what he did in half-season). I’m fine with taking him after about 120, FTR.

  22. piratesin2015 5 years ago

    bring up gorkys hernandez that would be sick out field

  23. revpauld 5 years ago

    As a Cardinals fan, I hope they stay on this and sign Church, instead of the Pirates. They can’t promise him as much playing time, but he would have the opportunity to play on a winning team. As for Ankiel, unless he can somehow figure out how to hit an off-speed pitch, he won’t be able to hold an everyday job for any team that wants to win.

  24. wright_is_my_boy 5 years ago

    good for RC…one of my favorite mets from 07-08 .. plays hard.. good thing they flipped him for frenchy though, still don’t know what the braves were doing trading their once-franchise player to a division rival……

  25. wright_is_my_boy 5 years ago

    good for RC… he was one of my favorite mets from 07-08 .. im just thankful they flipped him for frenchy … still confused on why the braves traded their once franchise player to a division rival….

    • R_y_a_n 5 years ago

      I don’t think they ever expected Francouer to be their franchise player. He isn’t a good player, and while that deal doesn’t look good for the Braves, it won’t ever look bad.

      Frenchy just isn’t a productive player.

    • R_y_a_n 5 years ago

      I don’t think they ever expected Francouer to be their franchise player. He isn’t a good player, and while that deal doesn’t look good for the Braves, it won’t ever look bad.

      Frenchy just isn’t a productive player.

  26. phoenix88 5 years ago

    Pittsburgh jsut keeps picking up Washington’s Scraps. though i like this signing for them its a shame Church was never able to find his niche with the nats. he could’ve been very solid for us. Thanks a lot Jimbo for not giving church time to develop in DC

    • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

      Or is Washington picking up Pittsburgh’s scraps?

    • Dave_Davidson 5 years ago

      Or is Washington picking up Pittsburgh’s scraps?

    • bucco_nation 5 years ago

      you kidding me bro? we flat out robbed the Natty Lites with the Milledge/Hanrahan trade… and theres 1000 capps clones in the league.

  27. AkronHammer 5 years ago

    this is bad…i dont like this at ALLL

  28. AkronHammer 5 years ago

    this is bad…i dont like this at ALLL

  29. AkronHammer 5 years ago

    this makes no sense….theres no high point for church.he just plain out is bad

  30. AkronHammer 5 years ago

    this makes no sense….theres no high point for church.he just plain out is bad

  31. DempseyK 5 years ago

    The issue that the pirates are going to be having this year and next is that they have too many players at the same positions… Which for those of us diehard pirates fans is something we arent used to seeing.

    In the interest of good baseball talk, here is my prediction of potential events in 2010 for the Bucs:

    #1 Opening day lineup doesnt mean much to me… Because the ‘true’ starters wont be here until the the AAA’ers can come up without losing a yr of team control. So, I will begin the scenario after callups and trade deadline.

    CF Andrew McCutcheon
    LF Lastings Milledge
    1B Garret Jones
    C Ryan Doumit
    3B Pedro Alvarez
    2B Andy Laroche/Akinori Iwamura
    RF Jose Tabata
    SS Ronny Cedeno


    C/!B Jeff Clement
    C/3B/RF Neil Walker
    RF/LF/2B Delwyn Young
    OF/!B Ryan Church
    INF Bobby Crosby

    Starting 5

    1) Paul Maholm
    2) Brad Lincoln
    3) Zach Duke
    4) Charlie Morton
    5) Ross Ohlendorf

    Management has already made it known that when Pedro is ready, they will explore Andy at 2B. That being said, in theory…this could still mean Andy Laroche or Akinor Iwamura should be traded. Additionally Jason Jaramillo has options remaining, so he doesnt NEED to be up.

    I feel Neil Walker, although reportedly being shopped will pan out to be an excellent super utility guy…he is still a kid and has a lot of power.

    You will also notice Brandon Moss NOT in the list…I would anticipate the Pirates Management is PRAYING he has a tremendous spring training, because I dont believe he has a future in the organization any longer.

    Clement and Jones are big question marks…I dont see both having big years, but fortunately for once, they can settle for just one of them to.

    Unfortunately, I do see Ryan Doumit, and Either Paul Malholm or Zach Duke being traded. Potentially all 3. But for now, Im hoping, the team gives good reason to keep them.

    I think we have a lot of good things to come.

    • bucco_nation 5 years ago

      as do i bro, as do i.

      • Redbirds16 5 years ago

        I’m really waiting for the Pirates to develop their young talent at the same time and explode out of the cellar for a few years. Hopefully they’ll get enough support back behind the team that they can put some money behind their good players and build a competitive lineup for years to come.

        I was thinking the same would come from Cincy, but they never managed to get everyone on the same page, and it doesn’t really look like that’s going to happen anytime soon either. How do the Twins do it?

        • bucco_nation 5 years ago

          I feel like Cinci thinks they are a big market club, with the Rolen trade last year and the Chapman signing this year. They’re on the wrong track IMO. And you have to love how Minnesota competes for the division year in and year out.

  32. I didn’t like when the Mets traded for him (I was high on Milledge), but I disliked trading him even more. Unlike Francouer, Church is actually a well-rounded defensive outfielder who actually knows what a “base on balls” is. Good pickup by the Pirates.

    • TimotheusATL 5 years ago

      Walks are especially useful when you’re constantly on the DL. Easy to play great defense while on the DL as well.

      • With Francouer’s free-swinging ways and mediocre range, I wish he would take a page out of Church’s book.

  33. I didn’t like when the Mets traded for him (I was high on Milledge), but I disliked trading him even more. Unlike Francouer, Church is actually a well-rounded defensive outfielder who actually knows what a “base on balls” is. Good pickup by the Pirates.

  34. ericbancker 5 years ago

    He will be traded in June

  35. Hoosierdaddy92 5 years ago

    ok nyjer morgan was a heck of a pickup by the nats. milledge im on the fence about. morgan proved he could play last year.

  36. I like the Church signing, trade bait for July???

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