The Pirates added some depth on Monday by signing right-handed pitcher Jerad Eickhoff and catcher Jamie Ritchie to minor league deals. It is not known if either deal includes an invite to spring training at this time.
Eickhoff has pitched parts of six seasons in the big leagues with the Phillies and Mets. Last year with New York, Eickhoff went 0-2 with an 8.69 ERA/9.78 FIP in 19.2 innings. For his career, the 31-year old has a 4.35 ERA/4.62 FIP with 409 strikeouts in 459.2 innings. Eickhoff gives the Pirates some needed veteran starting pitching depth.
The right-hander isn’t a hard thrower (average fastball velocity is 90.6 mph) and also offers a slider, curveball and mixes in a few changeups. He was selected in the 15th round by the Texas Rangers in 2011.
Ritchie has yet to reach the big leagues and spent last season in Triple-A in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. In 79 games, Ritchie slashed .317/.417/.430 (120 wRC+). For his minor league career, the 28-year-old has a .286 batting average, an OPS just north of .800 and has walked (342 times) nearly as often as he has struck out (399 times). Defensively, he’s thrown out attempting base stealers 27% of the time.
The Pirates needed to add some depth behind the plate as Jacob Stallings is currently the only catcher on the 40-man roster. Additionally, the Triple-A catching depth also took a hit when the Bucs released Taylor Davis and a couple other catching options are currently free agents.