Pirates not yet talking extensions with Alvarez, Walker
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 8:15 p.m.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Early last season, the Pirates and agent Scott Boras said they were open to exploring a long-term contract extension for third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
Yet on the penultimate day of MLB's winter meetings, Boras did not seem optimistic about a multiyear deal being struck.
“I expect they'll make him a one-year offer because they have to,” Boras said Wednesday. “Other than that, I have no expectations.”
Alvarez, 26, is in his first of three years of salary arbitration eligibility. He made $700,000 this past season but can expect to get about $4 million in 2014 through arbitration.
Boras said he has not yet begun discussions with the Pirates.
“(Alvarez's) arbitration contract negotiation will be in January, so we'll probably be talking then,” Boras said.
Under the arbitration process, agents and teams must exchange one-year salary figures Jan. 17. Hearings are held throughout February. If a case goes to a hearing, the board must choose one figure or the other. Teams and agents can continue to negotiate until the board's decision is announced.
Second baseman Neil Walker also figures to get a hefty sum — perhaps as high as $5 million — through arbitration. Walker, who qualified for Super 2 status, is in his second of four years of eligibility.
In 2010, the Pirates approached Walker about a multiyear contract, but those talks went nowhere. The sides are not currently discussing a new deal.
“If there's a possibility of extensions for some of our guys internally this year, we'll be willing to go more than two years,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “It's a matter of the right guy and the right deal.”
Pitcher Charlie Morton on Wednesday got a three-year, $21 million extension that buys out at least his first two years of free agency. Morton was in his final year of arbitration eligibility. But Huntington did not rule out long deals for players such as Alvarez and Walker, who are new to the process.
“It's ultimately more about finding common ground than it is (about) timing,” Huntington said. “In some cases, you can find common ground early. In some cases, you find it later. In some cases, you never find common ground, despite there even being some interest on both sides.
“The later you wait, the more expensive it gets because there's a more proven track record for the player. The earlier you go, the more risk the club takes on. It's a shared process. I think interest and willingness to compromise outweighs timing.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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