The Pirates have agreed to a contract with free-agent righty Jandel Gustave, Robert Murray reports (via Twitter). The agreement is still pending a physical. The Giants outrighted Gustave off the 40-man roster last weekend, but as a player who’d been previously outrighted at least once in the past — the Astros outrighted Gustave following the 2018 season — he had the right to decline the assignment in favor of free agency.
Gustave, 27, didn’t pitch in the big leagues for the Giants in 2020 but logged 24 1/3 frames with them last season. He’s tallied a total of 44 1/3 innings in the Majors between Houston and San Francisco, logging a 3.43 ERA and 3.97 FIP — albeit with a lackluster 32-to-20 K/BB ratio.
Gustave has found success due in no small part to limiting home runs in the big leagues (just three allowed). A 0.60 HR/9 mark is difficult to sustain in any environment but seems particularly tough to continue at a time when 15 percent of fly-balls are clearing the outfield fence, league-wide, for a second straight season. Gustave, by contrast, has seen just seven percent of his fly-balls in the Majors turn into home runs. To his credit, he’s also been quite adept at avoiding the long ball in the minors (0.39 HR/9), so perhaps he can continue the trend.
Last season, Gustave averaged a healthy 96.1 mph on his fastball and paired that with a well above-average spin rate. Gustave has generally posted average or better ground-ball rates in the minors and averaged a bit shy of a strikeout per inning. Details of his arrangement with Pittsburgh aren’t clear yet, and the club hasn’t formally announced the move. Given that Gustave went unclaimed on waivers a week ago, it seems likely to be a minor league pact that adds him to the 60-man player pool and sends him to the Pirates’ alternate training site.