The Bucs signed 41 year old Jose Contreras to a minor league contract and invite to camp. Oh, he's recovering from UCL and flexor pronator tendon surgery from June, and will rehab during spring training.
In the past three seasons, Contreras has pitched 101 games in relief, with a 3.74
ERA and 9.1 K per nine in 84-1/3 innings. He first hit the headlines in 2003 after defecting from Cuba to sign with the NY Yankees. He was an All-Star in 2006, when he
won 13 games for the Chicago White Sox, where he had his best years as a starter, winning 15 games in 2005.
He tried to come back last season after 2011 surgery, but blew out his arm in Philly after a handful of innings. For all his hype, Contreras is 78-67 during his 10 year career, with a 4.55 ERA and 9 K per nine. Maybe the Bucs decided that Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton needed an amigo while on the mend.
Given his age, prior arm blowout last year and the fact he's had two surgeries in two seasons, we'd be surprised if he's ready to go anytime before the All-Star game. But he told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review that he's already thrown three times off mound. "My arm will tell when I'm ready, and then I'll go from there."
As we've noted, the Bucs love to collect. And we admit that they have a pretty good eye for picking up bullpen arms. Time will tell if Contreras is one of those low cost but useful guys who the FO has used in the past to add veteran depth and deadline trade bait. One thing's for sure - with Liriano, Sanchez and now Contreras, the Buc profile for pitching has made a sea change to adding power arms. The soft-tossing days are a thing of the past.