The Pirates are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series. Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.
- First time: James McDonald ($3MM), Neil Walker ($2.9MM), Gaby Sanchez ($1.8MM)
- Second time: Garrett Jones ($4.4MM), Charlie Morton ($2.6MM), Chris Resop ($1.3MM)
- Third time: Joel Hanrahan ($6.9MM), Jeff Karstens ($3.8MM)
Hanrahan remains an asset for the Pirates, though this year's return to a big-time strikeout rate came with the unwanted side effects of a high walk rate and a lot of flyballs. On the surface, the Bucs have a guy who's converted 76 of 84 save opportunities the last two years with a 2.24 ERA and two All-Star game appearances. Hanrahan will be entering his walk year. With draft pick compensation for relievers mostly a thing of the past, GM Neal Huntington has to decide whether to trade Hanrahan or extend him in the neighborhood of $10MM per free agent year.
Elsewhere in the bullpen there's Resop, who added groundballs this year at the expense of strikeouts. The 29-year-old is hittable yet serviceable, and he's not terribly expensive.
The Pirates have three arbitration eligible starting pitchers. McDonald's ERA sat at 2.37 after a July 7th win; through 110 innings it seemed as if he'd turned a corner. He was brutal over his next 13 outings, with a 7.52 ERA in 61 frames. It was an odd season, but McDonald is expected to begin next year back in the Pirates' rotation. Now is not the time to consider trading or extending him.
Morton had hip surgery a year ago, but was able to make his season debut in mid-April. He lasted only nine starts before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He has to be considered a non-tender candidate, as otherwise the Pirates would have to pay him a projected $2.6MM in 2012 to pitch at most three and a half months. Huntington must decide the value of the chance to control Morton for the 2014 season. The GM was noncommittal on the subject of Karstens, who had an injury-shortened 2012 as well. Since Karstens finished the season healthy, he might be on firmer ground than Morton.
Jones needs a platoon partner, but he did hit .289/.332/.556 with 25 home runs in 434 plate appearances against right-handed pitching. I think he's safe, though this could be the last raise the Pirates are willing to give him. Walker had another nice year, and the Pirates have flirted with extending the Pittsburgh native before. In March, I suggested five years and $27MM for the Super Two second baseman.
The Pirates acquired Sanchez from the Marlins at the July trade deadline. The 29-year-old was better for the Bucs, but still fell well short of the production of a typical starting first baseman. There's a decent chance he's non-tendered.
If only Hanrahan, Jones, Karstens, McDonald, Walker, and Resop are retained, the Pirates would be looking at an estimated $22.3MM for six arbitration eligible players.
Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors. To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.