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Pirates cut ties with pitcher Karstens, trade Resop

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 4:16 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens delivers against the Astros on Thursday, July 5, 2012, at PNC Park. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

The Pirates on Friday cut ties with right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens to clear space on their 40-man roster for catcher Russell Martin.

Karstens was the only one of the Pirates' eight arbitration-eligible players who was non-tendered before the midnight deadline. The Pirates tendered contracts to closer Joel Hanrahan, second baseman Neil Walker, righty James McDonald, and first basemen Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez.

The Pirates also came to contract terms with right-hander Charlie Morton on a one-year, $2 million contract to avoid arbitration. Morton, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, made $2.445 million this year.

Reliever Chris Resop, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, was traded to the Oakland A's for minor league right-hander Zach Thornton. Thornton, 24, went 4-0 with 16 saves and a 4.53 ERA last year at Class A Stockton.

Resop is due to make more than $1 million through arbitration. He had a 3.91 ERA and 1.425 WHIP in 61 relief outings last season.

A player 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.

Teams and players who were tendered will exchange salary arbitration figures Jan. 18. If the sides cannot agree to terms, the process goes to arbitration hearings Feb. 4-20.

Karstens, 30, spent the past five seasons with the Pirates and went 23-35 with a 4.31 ERA in 123 games (82 starts).

“It was a tough decision for us,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We worked hard to reach a (contract) agreement with his agent and were unsuccessful. Our next step became trying to trade Jeff. We were unsuccessful, so we reached the decision to let him leave.”

Pain in his shoulder and hip limited Karstens to 90 innings last season, his fewest since 2008. Yet when Karstens was able to pitch, he was effective, putting up a 3.97 ERA and a career-best 1.147 WHIP. He made $3.1 million.

Karstens is rehabbing at his offseason home in Baltimore and began throwing two weeks ago.

“It's going well,” Karstens said. “It feels nothing like it's felt in the past (offseasons). I feel happy to throw. In the past, I was nervous about even playing catch in the offseason.”

Note: Infielder Yamaico Navarro, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for righty Jhondaniel Medina. Medina, 19, went a combined 1-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 11 games (seven starts) for the Gulf Coast League Orioles and Low-A Aberdeen.

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

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