The Pirates' Neil Walker hits a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a game at PNC Park last season.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates agreed to terms with Neil Walker and James McDonald on one-year contracts, the team announced Thursday evening, avoiding salary arbitration with their final two eligible players.
The Pirates had previously agreed to contracts with Garrett Jones, Gaby Sanchez and Charlie Morton, ensuring they would stay out of the hearing room.
Walker, eligible for the first time as a Super 2 player, asked for $3.6 million. The Pirates submitted a figure of $3 million, meaning a $3.3 million midpoint.
McDonald, also eligible for the first time, asked for $3.4 million. The Pirates filed at $2.65 million, creating a midpoint of $3.025 million.
The agreement means the Pirates have roughly $70 million committed to 14 players for the 2013 season, about $56 million of which will come out of their pocket after receiving payments toward the salaries of A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez. The final 11 players on the active roster and players in the minor leagues will bring their 40-man roster payroll to roughly $75 million.
If Francisco Liriano's deal becomes official, that payroll will increase.
Walker and McDonald were both on their way to good seasons before second-half issues slowed them. McDonald, 28, struck out 100 batters in 110 first-half innings, but had a 7.52 ERA and walked 38 batters in 61 innings after the All-Star break. Manager Clint Hurdle eventually removed him from the rotation.
Walker, 27, hit .280 with 14 home runs, but missed about half of September because of a herniated disc in his lower back.
Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens and Chris Resop were also eligible for arbitration. The Pirates traded Hanrahan and Resop and parted ways with Karstens before the non-tender deadline, then re-signed him later.