Ken Rosenthal is reporting on Monday night that the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed free agent outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall to a one-year contract worth $2.75 M.
Source: #Pirates sign free-agent OF Lonnie Chisenhall to one-year, $2.75M contract.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 27, 2018
The 30-year-old lefty hitting Chisenhall missed most of the 2018 season, first due to a right calf strain in April, then a left calf strain in early July shortly after he returned from the disabled list. The second injury ended his season. He played just 29 games, posting a .321/.394/.452 slash line. Chisenhall became a free agent after the season ended.
Over the course of eight seasons in Cleveland, he posted a .268/.320/.427 slash line in 688 games. He has cracked the 400 at-bat mark just once in his career. That was when he played 142 games during the 2014 season and posted a .770 OPS.
Chisenhall has made nine trips to the disabled list since 2010, so it’s interesting to note that his signing is due to an injury. He appears like the current front-runner to take the place of Gregory Polanco, who could be out until June of 2019. Chisenhall has played more games at third base in the majors than anywhere else, though he hasn’t played there since one game during the 2016 season. He has played all three outfield spots and some first base as well, but after third base, right field is his most often played spot on the field.
Once the deal becomes official, the Pirates will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
UPDATE: Rosenthal added that the deal has incentives as well based on playing time. Here’s a quote from him on the breakdown:
“Chisenhall’s deal also includes a series of performance bonuses: $250K each for 250 plate appearances, 300-350-400, $500K each for 450-500-550-600”
If he’s playing full-time, the deal could go as high as $5.75 M. You would assume that if he somehow does reach 600 plate appearances, then that $5.75 M figure would be a bargain because he’s playing every day. The only way he reaches any of those last four incentives is if he is both healthy all season and playing well.