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Pirates' arbitration deadline nears

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 6:03 p.m.
Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan  delivers during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Pittsburgh Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. The Reds won 4-3, with Hanrahan taking the lose. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan delivers during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Pittsburgh Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. The Reds won 4-3, with Hanrahan taking the lose. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Pirates have until midnight Friday to tender contracts to their eight arbitration-eligible players.

Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, James McDonald, Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez seem likely to be tendered. Chris Resop, who is poised to finally reach the $1 million salary mark, also should get an offer.

Walker has enough service time to qualify for Super 2 status, which gives him an extra year of arbitration eligibility. He made $500,000 this year, close to the major league minimum, but probably will see his salary hiked toward $3 million in 2013.

The Pirates and Walker discussed a multiyear contract in 2011, but talks broke down and have not been resumed. For now, both sides seem to be content to let Walker's contract status play out year by year.

Last year Hanrahan avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $4.1 million deal. After racking up 76 saves over the past two seasons, Hanrahan probably will make upwards of $7 million next year. That would make him the third-highest-paid player on the team, behind starting pitchers A.J. Burnett ($16.5 million) and Wandy Rodriguez ($13 million).

Pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens might be non-tendered. The right-handers were beset by injuries this past season, raising questions about their value for the dollar in 2013. Players who are non-tendered become free agents.

Pain in his shoulder and hip limited Karstens to 90 innings, his fewest since 2008. Yet when Karstens was able to pitch this past season, he was effective, posting a 3.97 ERA and a career-best 1.147 WHIP.

Karstens made $3.1 million this year and could expect a raise of at least $500,000 through arbitration. That might make the Pirates hesitate, but their lack of experienced major league starters could nudge them toward tendering Karstens an offer.

Morton made only nine starts before having season-ending Tommy John surgery. Morton is rehabbing his elbow in Florida and is expected to be back in action by the middle of the 2013 season.

Morton is in his second year of arbitration eligibility and made $2.445 million this season. If he is non-tendered, the Pirates likely will try to re-sign him at a lower rate.

Any player who is tendered a contract must be offered at least 80 percent of his previous season's salary. A player who goes through arbitration is practically guaranteed a raise, even if he is coming off a subpar year.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7811.

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