The Pirates have inked left-hander Kevin Siegrist to a minor-league contract, the team announced today in a press release. He’s received an invitation to spring training camp as well.
Siegrist had recently pitched before a crowd of about 20 scouts in Florida, making an attempt to show teams he’s healthy and can bounce back after an injury-marred 2017 campaign with the Cardinals and Phillies. Apparently none of those teams were willing to offer Siegrist a major-league contract, but he’ll have a good chance to make a Pirates roster that features George Kontos and Michael Feliz as the top setup options behind newly-extended closer Felipe Rivero. If he does, the Bucs will have the option to control him through the 2019 season via the arbitration process.
Prior to 2017, Siegrist had enjoyed a largely successful career with the Cardinals. Across 206 1/3 frames with the club from 2013-2016, the southpaw pitched to a 2.70 ERA while racking up 243 strikeouts. He had a bit of a walk problem (4.10 BB/9), and ERA estimators suggested he outperformed his peripherals a bit (3.87 xFIP), but nonetheless he was solid for the Redbirds, racking up 72 holds and 9 saves during that span.
Things took a turn for the worst for Siegrist last year, as a forearm strain and spinal sprain forced two separate stints on the DL. When on the field, his velocity and strikeout rate were both down, while his walk rate ballooned to a problematic 5.24 per nine. His 4.98 ERA became an eyesore, and by the end of August, the Cardinals had seen enough; they activated him from the DL only to designate him for assignment immediately.
Siegrist was quickly claimed by the Phillies, for whom he pitched just five innings during the month of September. He allowed two earned runs and struck out seven. However, his showing apparently wasn’t enough to convince Philadelphia to pay him a minimal arbitration raise on his $1.6MM 2017 salary. The club opted to outright Siegrist off their 40-man roster, and he elected free agency shortly thereafter.
The towering 6′-5″ Siegrist is just 28 years old. He was drafted and developed by the Cardinals organization, who plucked him out of Palm Beach Community College in the 41st round of the 2008 draft. Though he was a starter in the lower minors, a shift to the bullpen late in his 2012 season at the Double-A level spurred a quick rise to the majors. Siegrist pitched just 7 2/3 innings with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate before he was deemed ready to make his major-league debut on June 6th, 2013, a day on which he struck out four of the six hitters he faced while allowing no earned runs.