Friday, February 1, 2013
Walker, McDonald long for Pittsburgh?
By Jason A. Churchill
Thursday the Pittsburgh Pirates signed second baseman Neil Walker and right-hander James McDonald to one-year contracts, avoiding arbitration. Walker will earn $3.3 million with McDonald set to make just over $3 million. Those figures suggest a year from now both players could command around $6 million, numbers that may not jive with the Pirates' payroll plans.
If that is the case, the club could approach either player, or both, about a multi-year extension that could save the team some cash and give the players some security with guaranteed money. A similar decision could be approaching with Garrett Jones, who has two more arbitration years remaining. Walker has three more shots -- he qualified as a Super Two this offseason -- and McDonald has two more.
Walker, 27, puts up solid offensive numbers for a second baseman, and has worked his way to the fringe-average range defensively, depending on whom you ask. McDonald, 28, was very good the first half of 2012, posting a 2.37 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 110 innings. After the all-star break, the former Dodgers prospect struggled with his control and command, issuing 38 bases on balls in 61 frames and yielding 14 home runs.
The Pirates do have some pitching on the way up from the minors, a fact that could impact their approach with McDonald. Top prospect Gerrit Cole could make his big-league debut in 2013 and Jameson Taillon may only be a year away. Walker could be be a little bit more difficult to replace, but price will likely be the deciding factor.