The longest-tenured Pirates player officially is back for another year.
The Pirates announced Thursday that the team and pitcher Jeff Karstens have finalized a one-year contract worth $2.5 million with performance incentives, according to a source.
"As we've said from the get-go, when he's taken the ball over the last couple of years, he's given everything he has and he's pitched well," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
The Pirates did not offer a tender to Karstens, 30, in November near the deadline for teams to do so with arbitration-eligible players. Karstens earned $3.1 million last season and likely would have earned between $3.5 million and $4 million through arbitration in 2013.
For the Pirates, that was too much for a pitcher who pitched 902/3 innings in 2012 and was sidelined early by a shoulder injury and limited by a hip injury late in the season.
Huntington said while the Pirates wanted to bring Karstens back, he wasn't always sure the team would be able to -- especially after the team non-tendered the pitcher.
"You have to face reality that most players don't go back," Huntington said. "We worked hard to leave the door open, worked hard to communicate our thoughts and that we still had interest."
Huntington said Karstens deserves a lot of credit for his relationships with his teammates and his love of the city and its fans. When he was healthy, he was effective.
Karstens went 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 appearances, including 15 starts. He is 26-40 with a 4.44 ERA in his career and 23-35 with a 4.31 ERA in five seasons with the Pirates.
Huntington said Karstens' signing was influenced by an injury that free-agent pitcher Francisco Liriano sustained in December. The team and Liriano had agreed to a deal, but it was not finalized because Liriano had not taken a physical.
The deal ultimately fell through, but Huntington said the Pirates are still talking to Liriano's representatives. But, while Huntington said the Liriano negotiations influenced the Karstens deal, they did not ultimately lead to it.
Karstens will be a favorite to make the rotation entering spring training.
Eight Pirates players and prospects were named to the provisional rosters of the World Baseball Classic, which will take place in March throughout the world. The championship series is scheduled for March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is on the Dominican Republic roster; pitchers Jameson Taillon and Chris Leroux and catcher Russell Martin are on Team Canada's roster; Jason Grilli will pitch for Italy; infielder Ivan De Jesus will play for Puerto Rico; infield prospect Stefan Welch is on Team Australia's roster, and catching prospect Ali Solis is on Team Mexico's roster.
Also on Mexico's roster: former Pirates catcher Rod Barajas.
Two other prospects -- catcher Charlie Cutler (Israel) and shortstop Gift Ngoepe (South Africa) -- were on rosters of non-qualifying teams.
No Pirates player made the United States roster.
Teams have until Feb. 20 to finalize the WBC rosters.
Training camp updates
The Pirates invited pitching prospects Taillon and Gerrit Cole to their major league camp for spring training, the team announced. Additionally, the team signed outfielder/first baseman Brad Hawpe and catcher Lucas May to minor league deals with non-roster spring training invitations.
Cole was recently named the Pirates top prospect by Baseball America and finished the 2012 season in Class AAA Indianapolis. He also participated in the major league camp last season. Cole, 22, went 9-7 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 starts last season.
Taillon was named the team's second-best prospect, according to Baseball America. He finished 2012 in Class AA Altoona and has a career 11-11 record, 3.72 ERA in 49 career minor- league appearances.
Hawpe, 32, last played in the major leagues with San Diego in 2011. He has a .276 batting average in 893 career games with the Padres, Colorado and Tampa. He participated in Texas' spring training last year before being assigned to Class AA, where he hit .260 with three home runs.
May, 28, has played in only 12 major-league games. He has a .255 batting average in 859 career minor-league games.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published January 18, 2013 5:00 AM