In order to clear space on their 40-man roster for catcher Russell Martin, the Pirates on Friday cut ties with right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens. Karstens, who is in the final year of arbitration eligibility, has been designated for assignment and will not be tendered a contract. That makes him a free agent. “It was a tough decision for us,” GM Neal Huntington said. “We worked hard to reach a (contract) agreement with his agent and were unsuccessful. Our next step became trying to trade Jeff. We were unsuccessful. We’ve reached the decision to let him leave.”
Huntington declined to say right now whether the Pirates will tender their seven other arbitration-eligible players, including Charlie Morton, Garrett Jones and Neil Walker. The deadline is midnight Friday.
Pain in his shoulder and hip limited Karstens to 90 innings this season, his fewest since 2008. Yet when Karstens was able to pitch, he was effective, putting up a 3.97 ERA and a career-best 1.147 WHIP. He made $3.1 million this past season. Karstens is rehabbing at his offseason home in Baltimore and began throwing two weeks ago. “It’s going well,” Karstens said. “It feels nothing like it’s felt in the past (offseasons). I feel happy to throw. In the past, I was nervous about even playing catch in the offseason.”