Pirates notebook: Walker wants long-term deal
Neil Walker has reached the first of his four years of arbitration eligibility, a period when his salary can rapidly escalate. Yet the second baseman said he's open to working out a long-term contract with the Pirates.
“This is the city I want to be in,” Walker said Friday at the annual Hot Stove Luncheon that kicks off PirateFest. “I'm excited about my first year of arbitration, (but) I can't really speak too much more on that. I hope to be a Pirate for a long, long time. We'll see how it goes. I know if I take care of myself and stay healthy, everything will work out.”
If he goes through the arbitration process, Walker can expect his salary to rise to around $3 million next season. He made $500,000 this year.
The Pirates approached Walker about a multi-year deal in 2011, but talks broke down and haven't been reopened.
The Pirates expect to spend about $70 million for players on their 40-man roster in 2013, according to team president Frank Coonelly.
During a Q&A session with season-ticket holders Friday at PirateFest, Coonelly said the team might spend an additional $9 million on payroll than it did in 2012. Coonelly said next season's total “might approach” $70 million and likely would continue to rise in the near future.
General manager Neal Huntington admitted a change in clubhouse chemistry could have been a factor behind the team's second-half collapse last season.
Casey McGehee, who was outgoing and popular, was traded at the July 31 deadline. Kevin Correia, upset about taking on a lesser role, asked to be traded (but never was) after he was bumped out of the starting rotation by Wandy Rodriguez. Newcomers Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez needed time to adjust to their new surroundings.
“We worked to get better, not only for 2012 but for 2013 and beyond, (but) did we disrupt the chemistry?” Huntington said. “Anytime you make a move, that's something you take into consideration.”
This offseason, the Pirates have listened to trade offers for Joel Hanrahan. The veteran closer is well-liked by his teammates, so dealing him could cause another seismic shift in the clubhouse mood. Huntington, though, is not worried.
“I'm not sure I'm fully equipped to get inside our (players') brains and think for them,” Huntington said. “But I think our guys realize ... that change is part of the game. Since the creation of free agency, players have become transitory. You'd like to keep as many guys as you can together. But the reality of the game today is transition.”
Cole set for Indy
Right-hander Gerrit Cole will begin the season in Triple-A Indianapolis. Cole, the top overall draft pick in 2011, will be a non-roster invitee when spring training camp opens Feb. 12.
“Our plan for Gerrit is to have him come to spring training and show us how strong his offseason was and then continue his growth and development,” Huntington said. “When he shows us he's ready to maintain his delivery and unleash his four-pitch package with consistency, we'll bring him to the major leagues.”
The Pirates are hunting for a No. 4 or 5 starting pitcher, but there are no indications any move is imminent. Two rookies — left-hander Jeff Locke, who will attend PirateFest, and right-hander Kyle McPherson, who's nursing a sore shoulder — also are candidates for the rotation.
“We continue to scan the free-agent and trade markets, but we feel good about what (options) we have internally,” Huntington said.
Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates hired Jeff Branson as an assistant hitting coach.
Last year, Branson was the hitting coach at Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Pirates unveiled a 1970s-style alternate uniform, which will be worn on Sunday home games next season.
The uniform, which was used by the 1971 world championship team, features a mustard-yellow cap and a pullover jersey. Unlike the early '70s version, the 2013 jerseys will have the players' names stitched across the back.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7811.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- Pirates notebook: Catcher Cervelli among ejection leaders
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle mulling rotation options
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Rockies, Aug. 29, 2015
- Pirates turn nifty double play in 9th, edge Marlins
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Rockies, Aug. 28, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Burnett’s simulated game goes well
- Pirates notebook: Former 1st-round pick Tucker has shoulder surgery
- Biertempfel: MLB right to consider ways of enhancing playoff system
- Gameday: Pirates at Marlins, Aug. 27, 2015