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Jones, Sanchez agree to terms with Pirates

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 6:24 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez waits to take batting practice in the rain Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, during minicamp at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

The Pirates on Friday came to terms with first basemen Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez on one-year contracts. However, second baseman Neil Walker and pitcher James McDonald remain unsigned, moving them closer to arbitration.

The Associated Press reported Jones' deal is worth $4.5 million.

Sanchez's deal is worth $1.75 million, plus incentives, nearly tripling his salary from last year.

The Pirates have 10 players under contract for $56.2 million, putting them on track for a 25-man payroll of at least $72 million. That will include $13.5 million, which will be paid by the Yankees and Astros toward the salaries of pitchers A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez.

Jones is in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility. He was not listed among the arbitration-eligible players who exchanged salary figures with their teams by Friday's deadline.

Jones, 31, made $2.25 million last year, when he batted .274 and had a .832 on-base plus slugging percentage. He hit a career-high 27 home runs and matched his personal best with 86 RBI.

However, Jones is only a .198 hitter against lefties, so he's expected to platoon with Sanchez. Sanchez made $483,000 last year, when he hit a combined .217 with seven homers, 30 RBI and a .620 OPS for the Pirates and Marlins.

The Pirates and agents for Walker and McDonald exchanged salary figures. Walker filed for $3.6 million and the Pirates at $3 million. McDonald filed for $3.4 million, the Pirates $2.65 million.

The sides can negotiate until a hearing is held. If the process goes to a hearing, the board of arbiters must choose one of the figures. Hearings will be held Feb. 4-20.

Last year, the Pirates avoided hearings with seven of eight arbitration-eligible players. The exception was Jones, who lost his hearing and was awarded $2.25 million instead of the $2.5 million he sought.

Since the process began in 1974, the Pirates are 10-10 against players in arbitration hearings.

The Pirates entered this offseason with eight arbitration-eligible players. Jeff Karstens was non-tendered, which made him a free agent, and on Thursday he re-signed for $2.5 million. Charlie Morton already has agreed to $2 million deal. Chris Resop and Joel Hanrahan were traded.

Morton has one year of arbitration eligibility left. Jones and McDonald have two. Walker qualified for Super 2 status and has three years of eligibility remaining.

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