The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to terms with right-handed starting pitcher Joel Pineiro on a new, two-year contract, pending completion of a physical. FOXSports.com reports the deal is for $13 million total.
On July 31, Pineiro and cash came to the Cardinals from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later. That player is expected to be minor league outfielder Sean Danielson.
Pineiro, 28, had many addresses in 2007. He had been designated for assignment by Boston on July 23 and accepted his assignment to the Red Sox’ Triple-A International League Pawtucket affiliate on July 25. There, he had made two starts, posting a 2.25 ERA in eight minor league innings, striking out three and walking four.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Pineiro had been signed by the Red Sox as a free agent in January to a one-year, $4 million contract for the 2007 season after having spent seven seasons (2000-06) as a starter with Seattle.
There was also a 2008 mutual option in the Boston contract, but that apparently reverted to a player option based on 2007 results. As a result, Pineiro was expected to have tested free agency this fall if the Cardinals had not moved to lock him up.
After rumors placed him in the mix to become the Sox’ closer in Spring Training, his .304 opponent batting average against and the return of Jonathan Papelbon to the ninth-inning role ended that idea.
In a general relief position this season, Pineiro was a disappointment with a 1-1 record and a 5.03 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Red Sox. Away from Fenway Park, he posted a 3.60 ERA in 16 appearances (15.0 IP).
Pineiro, who was a 12th round draft selection by the Mariners in 1997, made his major league debut in 2000 at the age of 21. He has compiled a career mark of 65-60 with a 4.47 ERA in 227 games (159 starts). Pineiro enjoyed his best seasons for the Mariners in 2002 and 2003 when he went 14-7 and 16-11, respectively. His 16 wins in 2003 ranked eighth in the American League, as did his 3.24 ERA in 2002.
Upon joining the Cardinals, Pineiro was a pleasant surprise down the stretch. He made 11 starts for the Cardinals, going 6-4 with an ERA of 3.96. He fanned 40 and walked just 12 in 63 2/3 innings pitched. On the downside, opposing batters hit 11 home runs against him.
Pineiro is expected to join a 2008 Cardinals rotation that includes Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper along with two fill-ins for injured starters Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder.
While there are a number of in-house candidates to complete the rotation for next season, many observers believe the team should add another front-line starter either via the free agent market or trade to shore up a major weakness of the 2007 club. A potential source of trade candidates is the bullpen.
Just since the end of the season, Pineiro is the Cardinals third pitcher to come to terms for 2008, along with relievers Jason Isringhausen and Russ Springer. In addition, the four starters named above are under contract, along with Randy Flores and Ryan Franklin. Other pitchers also under team control include Andy Cavazos, Dennis Dove, Brian Falkenborg, Kelvin Jimenez, Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney, Mike Maroth, Anthony Reyes, Brad Thompson and Todd Wellemeyer.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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