The Pirates and right-handed starting pitcher Tony Armas have agreed to a deal which will pay the 28 year old $3 million this season with a mutual option of $5 million in 2008. Pirates GM Dave Littlefield promised earlier this week on the Junker and Crow Show to sign a RH starter before the beginning of spring training. This will add some competition in February and March to the rotation. Chacon and Armas will both be in contention for the fifth spot. Interestingly enough, Chacon's $3.8 million contract isn't guaranteed. If the Pirates' brass decide to go with Armas, they can buy Chacon out for $600,000. This isn't likely, as Littlefield has reiterated that they will use the left-over pitcher as a long reliever.
Armas has had some injury trouble in the past and missed almost two seasons before making a comeback last year. The Pirates are hopeful that Armas can finally come into his own in Pittsburgh and fight for a starting spot. He has never been a dominant pitcher, but he has eight years under his belt, and a nice sinking fastball which can be a plus pitch if he is able to throw it down in the zone with consistency. My take on this is that having more competition can only be a good thing. If there are four guys competing for a starting job, they will have to work harder and try just a little more to win that spot. And if Pirates management makes clear that their starting job is conditional and based on success, the pitchers will have to work. It's pure capitalism, the more competition, the better it is for the consumer.