Pirates, Jones avoid arbitration

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The Pirates and first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones agreed on a one-year, $4.5 million contract late Friday night, avoiding arbitration.

Jones, 31, hit .274 last season with a career high 27 home runs and tied a career high with 86 RBIs. He earned $2.25 million in 2012 -- his first year of arbitration eligibility after losing his case against the Pirates. He was seeking $2.5 million.

He was a "Super 2" arbitration qualifier last season because he is among the top 22 percent of players with more than two but less than three years of major league service, earning him an extra year of arbitration eligibility.

The Pirates have two remaining arbitration eligible players: second baseman Neil Walker and pitcher James McDonald, both arbitration-eligible for the first time. Walker is a Super 2 player. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Walker filed for $3.6 million and the Pirates filed for $3 million. Heyman also reported that McDonald filed for $3.4 million and the Pirates filed for $2.65 million.

Indians

New Brighton's Terry Francona has a new job as manager of the Cleveland Indians. He also has a new book scheduled to come out Tuesday on his eight often triumphant, sometimes chaotic years as manager of the Boston Red Sox. In "Francona: The Red Sox Years" -- co-written with the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy -- Francona asserts that the club's ownership group of John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino made the team's image a priority, ultimately at the expense of the talent on the field. "They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball," Francona writes. "I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners ... and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. ... It's not their blood."

Brewers

Milwaukee and closer John Axford avoided arbitration, with Axford agreeing to a $5 million deal after earning $525,000 last year.

Elsewhere

The Frontier League's Florence Freedom were quick to jump on the Manti Te'o/fake girlfriend story, announcing a promotion May 23 offering a bobblehead giveaway of the girlfriend. Only the boxes will be empty. They also will rope off a section just for people to bring imaginary friends.

Looking ahead

What: Pirates spring training.

When: Feb. 11, pitchers and catchers report; Feb. 14, the rest of the squad reports.

Where: Bradenton, Fla.

The skinny: The club opens its spring schedule at 1:05 p.m. Feb. 23 vs. Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte, Fla.

pirates


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