Contract talks between the Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker appear to have cooled. A source said the two sides currently are not engaged in discussions about a multi-year deal for Walker, who might qualify for Super 2 status after the 2012 season. However, it’s likely talks will resume before the start of spring training.
The team was deep in talks with Walker in late August, when outfielder Jose Tabata inked a six-year, $14.75 million contract. One hangup in the Walker talks was his possible Super 2 status, which would give him an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
With free agency in full swing, it’s possible the Pirates merely have tabled Walker’s situation until after the club lines up players for next season. The front office also has been busy deciding on contract options for Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder and Ronny Cedeno (all four were declined) and also is working on which prospects will be protected on the 40-man roster and whether or not to offer arbitration to its free agents. I would expect the Pirates to offer arby to Derrek Lee, so they at least get a compensation draft pick if he signs with another team. Doumit, by the way, recently turned down a one-year, $3 million offer from the Dodgers.
»»» Pitchers and catchers will have their first spring training workout Feb. 19 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. The first full-squad workout will be Feb. 24.
»»» Three high-profile prospects — Chase d’Arnaud, Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman — are nursing injuries. Assistant GM Kyle Stark said all three are expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
D’Arnaud injured his right hand when it was stepped on during a Dominican Winter League game. Stark said d’Arnaud “is progressing well” and will not play any more winter ball this offseason. Marte has been out of action in the DWL since Nov. 1 due to tightness in his groin. He is rehabbing at the Pirates’ academy in El Toro, D.R., and will be re-evaluated this week. Grossman will have surgery this week to repair a his hamate bone, which he fractured while playing in the Arizona Fall League. Grossman has been out of action since Nov. 8, and hit .375 with a .472 on-base percentage in 26 AFL games.
»»» Danny Murtaugh, who managed the Pirates to two World Series titles, was honored with a plaque at the Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum in Chadds Ford, Delaware County.
»»» Remember John Raynor? The Pirates took the speedy outfielder with the second pick in the 2009 Rule 5 draft. He played 11 games with the club in 2010 before being sent back to the Marlins. Raynor retired last spring after failing to stick with the Fish, and has returned to North Carolina Wilmington as a student and a coach.