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Pirates agree with Barmes on 1-year deal

| Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes makes a play against the Reds on Sept. 22, 2013, at PNC Park.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Clint Barmes reached a one-year, $2 million agreement with the Pirates on Thursday, a source confirmed to the Tribune-Review. After starting last season at shortstop, Barmes will return as a utility infielder, primarily to back up shortstop Jordy Mercer.

While Barmes struggled offensively in 2013, he graded out as an above-average defender, which is important for a pitching staff that led the major leagues in groundball rate. The Pirates on Wednesday added another pitcher with an above-average groundball rate in Edinson Volquez.

The Pirates committed $11 million to their 2014 payroll over the final two days of the winter meetings, with contracts given to pitchers Charlie Morton and Volquez and Thursday's deal with Barmes. Still, the Pirates could have enough financial flexibility to pursue a free-agent option at their most glaring remaining need: first base. The Pirates have been connected to free agent first baseman James Loney. After the Barmes signing, the Pirates' 25-man payroll is projected to be $73 million.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday the club was open to re-signing Barmes.

“We want to bring in a guy to catch the ball,” Hurdle said. “We want to get a guy that can catch the ball and put putouts away for the days that Jordy's not at shortstop.”

Hurdle said Barmes' potential role was made clear after the season.

“We had a conversation out the door in our exit interviews about the role we could envision he could play for us this year. We spelled it out directly to him,” Hurdle said. “I do believe this is always a challenging time for a player of Clint's (ability). He wanted to see if there was a job to be available to play a large volume of games to be a starting shortstop.

“He knows us. We know him. He's a very good defender. He's an impact defender. He's very good with our younger players. He's very good in the clubhouse. So there is a lot of tangible and intangible aspects of him we like.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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