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7 of 8 players tendered contracts

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The midnight deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is fast approaching. Seven of the Pirates’ eight players in this mix have been tendered.

Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm (all first-time arby eligibles) have been offered multi-year deals.

John Grabow and Adam LaRoche (both in the final year of arby eligibility) and first-timers Tyler Yates and Zach Duke also got offers.

That leaves righty Denny Bautista. All indications are he will not be tendered and will become a free agent. That gives the Pirates one vacancy on the 40-man roster — perhaps to be filled by a free-agent outfielder or starting pitcher.

McLouth, Doumit and Maholm were no-brainers. Grabow ($1.135 million in 2008) and LaRoche ($5 million in ’08) won’t come cheap. Don’t become too attached to them as Pirates; both can become free agents after the 2009 season.

Yates made $800,000 last season and will break the $1 million mark next year. But the Pirates are willing to pay that price — for now, at least — because of his power-arm upside.

Duke took a pay cut last spring as a 0-to-3 guy, and was no pleased. It will be interesting to see what he gets for ’09.

Be sure to scan the list of non-tendered players in the morning. I guarantee you GM Neal Huntington is giving it more than a quick once-over.

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