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Pirates agree to contract terms with Stewart, Locke

| Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, 6:12 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates catcher Chris Stewart scores past Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos during the third inning Sunday, July 26, 2015, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke works on his delivery with pitching coach Ray Searage in the bullpen during the team's minicamp Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates on Thursday reached contract terms with catcher Chris Stewart and pitcher Jeff Locke, avoiding salary arbitration with both players, according to industry sources.

Stewart agreed to a two-year contract with an option for 2018. The deal is pending a physical.

Locke got a one-year, $3.025 million contract. The left-hander made $531,000 last year, when he went 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA. The 28-year-old has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining.

Stewart will turn 34 on Feb. 19, the day pitchers and catchers will have their first spring training workout at Pirate City. Last season, he appeared in 58 games and batted .289 with a .659 OPS.

By locking up Stewart to a multiyear deal, which buys out at least the first year of his eligibility for free agency, the Pirates may be bracing for the departure of Francisco Cervelli, who will be a free agent after this season. Last month at PirateFest, Cervelli said the Pirates have not approached him about a contract extension.

“Let's see what happens,” Cervelli said. “That kind of talk will be between the team and my agent. I would love to retire from this team because I don't think it's good to be jumping around too much.”

The starting catcher at Triple-A Indianapolis this year will be Elias Diaz, who appeared in two games as a pinch-hitter with the Pirates last season.

On Wednesday, the Pirates released former first-round pick Tony Sanchez.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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