The Pirates have won an arbitration hearing against second baseman Neil Walker, reports MLB.com’s Tom Singer (on Twitter). Walker, who had filed at $9MM as opposed to the club’s $8MM figure (as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker), will earn that $8MM sum in 2015. He’d been projected to earn $8.6MM in arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz — a figure he may have approached had team and player been able to find a middle ground.
The 29-year-old Walker has now gone through the arbitration process three times, and the Super Two player will be eligible once more next winter before hitting free agency in the 2016-17 offseason. Walker had a breakout season in terms of power in 2014 but missed time due to both an appendectomy and lower back pain. He batted .271/.342/.467 with a career-high 23 homers, however, despite appearing in just 137 games.
Durability has long been an issue for the Excel Sports Management client, as Walker went through two turns on the 15-day DL in 2013 (though one was for a lacerated hand upon being spiked) and missed significant time in 2012 due to a herniated disc in his lower back. However, there’s been little question about his productivity when on the field; since establishing himself as Pittsburgh’s everyday second baseman in 2010, the hometown hero has batted .274/.341/.435, averaging 15 homers per season and an adjusted OPS of 116+ (indicating that he’s been 16 percent better than a league-average hitter when adjusting for league and park).