Erik Gonzalez to Start for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Erik Gonzalezis heading to the starter’s gate…

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has won a starting job in the infield with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Erik Gonzalez

The team’s general manager, Neal Huntington, said Gonzalez has won the shortstop competition over Kevin Newman.

Gonzalez has gone 7-for-30 (.233) with a double, a home run, 11 strikeouts and two errors in Grapefruit League play. Newman is 8-for-29 (.276) with two doubles, a homer and no errors.

Acquired from the Cleveland Indiansin an offseason trade, Gonzalez spent his first three seasons with the Indians as a utility player.

“I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and it’s finally here,” Gonzalez said. “I am so happy for my family, friends, the people have supported and always believed I could be a starting shortstop in the big leagues.”

Felipe Rivero Agrees to $22 Million, Four-Year Contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Life’s still the Pitts(burgh) for Felipe Rivero

The 26-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, a hard-throwing left-hander, has agreed to a $22 million, four-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Felipe Rivero

Rivero’s deal includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons.

Acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Washington Nationals in 2016, he receives a $2 million signing bonus and agreed to a deal that covers his arbitration-eligible years, giving him peace of mind.

“I want to be relaxed the next few years and not have arbitration cases,” Rivero said. “I just want to help the team as much as I can right now.”

Rivero took over as Pittsburgh’s closer last May and went 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA while converting 21 of 23 save opportunities and striking out 88 batters in 75⅓ innings. Rivero let his sister work in concert with his agent during negotiations, adamant he wanted to remain with the Pirates.

“When I got traded they … tried to make you feel like you’re at home,” Rivero said. “That’s why I wanted to stay for a few more years.”

General manager Neal Huntington said the team was “humbled” by Rivero’s decision, adding the cost certainty of the deal means the Pirates can move forward with confidence knowing one of the few bright spots from a mostly forgettable 2017 is in place through the end of this decade and the beginning of the next.

“It frees him up to just go pitch, frees him up to just go do his thing,” Huntington said. “He doesn’t have to worry about a lot of the things that players worry about.”

Rivero will make $2.5 million this season, $4 million in 2019, $5.25 million in 2020 and $7.25 million in 2021. The Pirates have a $10 million option for 2022 with a $1 million buyout and a $10 million option for 2023 with a $500,000 buyout.

Liriano Signs One-Year Contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Francisco Liriano is the Pirate of Pittsburgh…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has completed a reworked one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates after the left-handed starting pitcher injured his non-pitching arm over the holidays.

Francisco Liriano

The Pirates on Friday night announced they’d finalized the deal with Liriano, who has pitched for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. Liriano’s deal includes a vesting option for the 2014 season.

Pittsburgh had agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract with Liriano in December, pending a physical. But then Liriano got hurt, putting his status with the Pirates in jeopardy.

General manager Neal Huntington wouldn’t get into specifics when he talked last month about the nature of the injury, saying only that the team remained in contact with Liriano.

Liriano is 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA in seven major league seasons. He went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 2012 while splitting the season between the Twins and White Sox.