Pirates decline to offer contract to Karstens

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The Pirates announced today they will not tender a contract offer to right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens, an arbitration-eligible player who will become a free agent at midnight.

"A tough decision for us as an organization," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We're grateful for what Jeff has done, on and off the field."

Huntington said the Pirates tried to negotiate a contract with Karstens prior to the tender deadline, and then the club tried to trade him.

"Our hope is that the door is still ajar and he would entertain an opportunity to return to the Pirates. We'd still like to have him back."

Huntington said the team will announce later today whether they will tender the remaining seven arbitration-eligible players.

Today is the deadline for all teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Technically, Karstens has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for recently acquired catcher Russell Martin. But he will be non-tendered at midnight.

The Pirates acquired Karstens, 30, in a trade with the New York Yankees that sent Xavier Nady to the Bronx in 2008. Though he led the team with a 3.38 ERA in 2011, Karstens battled a couple injuries last season that kept him off the mound and limited his effectiveness.

He made 15 starts and four relief appearances, finishing with 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA. He earned $3.1 million last season, signing a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

Given his injuries this season, the Pirates were not willing to enter arbitration with -- and hence give a raise to -- Karstens.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.


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