PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are hopeful that they have filled their void for a left-handed reliever in signing veteran Joe Beimel, who finalized a Minor League deal with the club on Friday.
Beimel isn't guaranteed a spot on the Major League roster with this deal, but he will arrive in Spring Training expected to solidify a spot in the Bucs' Opening Day bullpen.
"It would probably be like the [D.J.] Carrasco situation last year, where there is every expectation in the world that he's going to make our club," general manager Neal Huntington said of Beimel's chances to stick. "But he still has to go out and perform. Anything we can do to increase the depth of our bullpen is a good situation."
Pittsburgh's bullpen still has some holes, but one of the most glaring had been the absence of an experienced left-handed reliever.
Daniel Moskos and Tony Watson were both added to the 40-man roster this offseason, but neither has any Major League experience. Those two, along with non-roster invitee Justin Thomas, had been the only lefties with a realistic chance of helping the Pirates right out of camp.
With Beimel, 33, now signed, the Bucs have some insurance in case the young left-handers are not ready to step into critical relief roles right away.
A 10-year veteran, Beimel returns to a city that he is plenty familiar with. After growing up in St. Marys, Pa., Beimel pitched for Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The Pirates drafted him in the 18th round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, and Beimel made his Major League debut with the organization in 2001.
Beimel was released after pitching three seasons for the Pirates and has made stops with five other clubs since. He was most recently with the Rockies, who were among the clubs interested in signing the free agent this offseason.
In 71 appearances last year for Colorado, Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA. He held left-handed hitters to a .221 batting average, but the Pirates don't anticipate using him solely to match-up against lefties. Though Beimel allowed right-handers to hit .329 against him in 2010, he's kept them to a .288 average over the course of his career.
"We're not really equipped to have a one-hitter left-handed reliever," Huntington said. "He has the weapons to do OK against right-handed hitters."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.