Rangers reliever Lisalverto Bonilla delivers a pitch against the Angels in 2014.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Each weekday until pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Bradenton, Fla., Post-Gazette baseball writers Bill Brink and Stephen J. Nesbitt will deliver a primer on a player or two on the Pirates’ 40-man roster. The countdown will rank players in order of impact and importance to the Pirates’ chances in 2017, plus their on-field abilities, off-field concerns and the likelihood of their inclusion on the active roster on opening day April 3 in Boston and beyond. For the full list, click here.
Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP
Height/weight: 6 feet, 225 pounds
Age: 26 (turns 27 June 18)
How acquired: Signed by the Pirates as a free agent Nov. 29.
2016 stats: 5-7, 3.97 ERA in 31 games, 13 starts, across 111 innings between Class AA Tulsa and Class AAA Oklahoma City in the Dodgers organization; 9.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.34 WHIP
Contract situation: One-year, $575,000 salary for 2017.
THREE KEY NUMBERS
Leading off:3.45. That was Bonilla’s ERA from June 23 to the end of the minor league season, when he moved into Tulsa’s and later Oklahoma City’s starting rotation.
On deck:5.09. That was his ERA as a reliever before the move.
In the hole:20. Bonilla walked the same number of batters — 20 — while pitching in relief in 35⅓ innings as he did in 75⅔ innings as a starter.
Bonilla has not pitched in the major leagues since 2014. In five games, three starts, for the Rangers, Bonilla allowed seven earned runs in 20⅔ innings, but issued 12 walks compared to 17 strikeouts. He needed Tommy John ligament replacement surgery and did not pitch in 2015.
Bonilla’s signing spelled the end of Jeff Locke’s Pirates career. They designated Locke for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
WHAT WE LEARNED
The Pirates have done this before, granting players such as Trey Haley and Jake Goebbert major league deals despite little to no recent major league success. The Pirates put Goebbert on waivers last spring and lost him early last April; Haley ended the season in double-A.
Bonilla will compete for a spot in a crowded bullpen. The Pirates have five lefty relievers on their 40-man roster, a number that will likely change before opening day. Righties Daniel Hudson, Juan Nicasio and Jared Hughes all figure to make the bullpen. Bonilla has two minor league options and is only making slightly above league minimum, so the Pirates can send him to Class AAA Indianapolis to start the season and promote him later due to injury or ineffectiveness.
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