2 deals remain undone, on table for Pirates

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Two arbitration cases remain unresolved for the Pirates, lengthening the front office's to-do list this week.

Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee have not agreed to terms for 2012. McGehee's hearing, according to a source, is scheduled for Thursday, and it is believed Jones' hearing will take place in the next couple of days. The Pirates also continue to negotiate a trade with the New York Yankees for right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett.

The desired salary figures filed by the Pirates and Jones differ by only $250,000; Jones asked for $2.5 million, the Pirates offered $2.25 million. McGehee asked for $2,725,000, the Pirates offered $2.35 million. A source said the sides continue to negotiate.

Jones, 30, who bats left-handed, hit .243 with 16 home runs in 2011 and appeared in 148 games, but he hit .147 against left-handed pitching.

The Pirates acquired McGehee, 29, a right-handed batter, in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Jose Veras in December. McGehee hit .223 with 13 home runs last season, but hit .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBIs in '10.

Jones made $455,500 last season, McGehee $468,000. Both are eligible for arbitration for the first time. Whenever the sides agree, the contracts will push the 40-man roster payroll to an estimated $45 million.

Players need at least three seasons of major league service time to be eligible for arbitration. Jones qualified as a "Super 2" player, which awards arbitration eligibility to the top 17 percent of players, in terms of service time -- starting in '12, the number rises to the top 22 percent -- with at least two but less than three years of service.

The sides can continue to negotiate and reach an agreement until their hearing in front of a panel of three arbitrators. The arbitrators select one salary or the other and assign a one-year, non-guaranteed contract.

The current front office has had only one arbitration hearing, with Ross Ohlendorf before the '11 season. Ohlendorf won and was awarded a $2,025,000 salary, rather than the Pirates' offer of $1.4 million. Before Ohlendorf, the Pirates previously went to a hearing with Jack Wilson in 2004.

Jones and McGehee likely will platoon at first base this season. Jones also could see some time in right field to spell Jose Tabata, and McGehee will play third base as well to complement Pedro Alvarez. McGehee has not played much first base in his career but could challenge for regular playing time at either corner infield spot if Alvarez or Jones struggles.

The Pirates had 11 players eligible for arbitration at the end of the season. They cut ties with Ohlendorf, Steve Pearce and Brandon Wood, traded Veras and agreed to contracts with Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Charlie Morton, Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens and Jason Grilli.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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