The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed left-handed pitcher Dan Runzler to a minor league contract. The 31-year-old has pitched parts of four seasons in the majors, appearing with the 2009-12 San Francisco Giants. He has a 3.86 ERA in 72.1 innings, with 78 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP in 89 big league games.
Runzler split the 2016 season between Triple-A Rochester (Twins) and the independent team Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. He had a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 innings over 20 appearances with Rochester before being released in June. With Sugar Land, he had a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings over 33 appearances, though that came with a 1.66 WHIP. It was the second consecutive season he was signed to a Triple-A contract, then finished the season with Sugar Land.
He will be Triple-A depth out of the bullpen, and a long shot to make the majors unless he can return to his earlier form. With the Giants, he held left-handed batters to a .212 average and a .545 OPS, but struggled against right-handed hitters.
The Pirates also re-signed player/coaches Kelson Brown, Gavi Nivar, Sammy Gonzalez and Adam Godwin. None of them are expected to play, though twice last year the Pirates were forced to activate a coach when they were short players. Drew Rossi pitched one game for the GCL Pirates, despite being an infielder as a player, while Miguel Perez was activated twice for Indianapolis as a backup catcher during the summer when the Pirates had numerous injuries behind the plate.
They sign these coaches as player/coaches so they can sit on the bench during games. A limit on the coaching staff in the dugout usually means they couldn’t be there, but listing them as players and putting them on the disabled list means they can be in the dugouts during games.