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Pirates haven't contacted Neil Walker's agent

Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, 6:45 p.m.
Neil Walker gets a hit during his first at-bat with the Brewers in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, in Milwaukee.
Getty Images
Neil Walker gets a hit during his first at-bat with the Brewers in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, in Milwaukee.

Although they are scouring the free-agent market for infield help, there does not appear to be much chance the Pirates will try to lure Neil Walker back next season.

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang missed all of last season after failing to secure a work visa. The longer Kang's status for 2018 remains in limbo, the more likely it is the Pirates will seek help via free agency or a trade.

On Wednesday, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted the Pirates "have some interest" in a reunion with Walker, who is a free agent.

However, a source told the Tribune-Review the Pirates have not contacted Walker's agent this offseason.

Team president Frank Coonelly declined to discuss Walker specifically. However, Coonelly indicated the Pirates are casting a wide net this offseason.

"Our job is to explore every realistic option to get better in 2018," Coonelly said. "In doing so, we certainly would not rule out any player who is attainable and who can make us better."

In 2004, Walker was the Pirates' first-round draft pick out of Pine-Richland High School. Originally a catcher, Walker was shifted to third base in the minors and played second base in the big leagues.

He played his first seven seasons in the majors in Pittsburgh, then was traded to the New York Mets in December 2015.

It was not an amicable parting. Walker made $8 million in his final season with the Pirates and was upset the team did not make him a stronger pitch for a multiyear contract.

Walker accepted a $17.2 million qualifying offer to stay with the Mets in 2017. On Aug. 12, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Recurring back pain limited Walker to 113 games in 2016 and 111 games this past season. This year, he hit a combined .265 with 14 home runs and an .801 OPS.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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