Pirates sign shortstop Barmes to 2-year deal
The Pirates offered shortstop Clint Barmes the opportunity to play for his former manager at his position of choice, and the terms of the contract didn't hurt, either.
The free-agent infielder signed a two-year, $10.5 million deal Monday with the Pirates, making him the team's starting shortstop after they declined to pick up Ronny Cedeno's $3 million option for 2012.
To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated catcher Brian Jeroloman for assignment.
"Not knowing what to expect and how free agency would work, it's been a great experience," Barmes said. "The two years guaranteed played a good part in this. It was the first big contract that my family and I have been able to sign, so that was exciting as well. But I'd be lying if I didn't say the two years played a part."
Barmes, 32, said his agent talked to a handful of teams. Most were talking about one-year deals or would have had him manning second base, where he's played 306 career games compared to 455 at shortstop over the course of nine seasons.
The Milwaukee Brewers were also believed to be offering a two-year deal.
Barmes also said that manager Clint Hurdle, for whom he played while both were with the Colorado Rockies organization, played a part in his decision. He said Hurdle told him they were trying to get him to Pittsburgh prior to the 2011 trade deadline.
"They were looking to find a shortstop as soon as possible, and we had to make a decision," said Barmes, who was in Pittsburgh yesterday for a physical. "We had to make a decision. I'm pleased to be back with Clint and to play for him again."
In a thin free-agent market at shortstop, Barmes was the player the Pirates liked the most among those they felt they could sign, a list that apparently did not include Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins.
"He's an above-average defensive player, and he sits in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive production for a shortstop," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "We looked at the trade and free-agent market at shortstop and went aggressively after Clint. In the past we've sat back and waited to see what others did then picked through what was left, and we decided to be aggressive and get the guys we wanted and felt we could get."
Owner Bob Nutting, at a Rotary Club of Pittsburgh event over the weekend honoring the Detroit Tigers' Jim Leyland, would not divulge what the Pirates' payroll might be this year.
"We think it's always better not to try to pre-set a range or talk about a specific range," he said. "What's going to be most important is that the dollars we do have we deploy really, really effectively and focus on winning games in Pittsburgh and focus on bringing talent at every level into the organization --just as we have the last several years."
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