Barmes agrees to return in backup role


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Pirates agreed to terms with shortstop Clint Barmes Thursday on a one-year, $2 million contract, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The deal will become official after Barmes passes a physical. Barmes can earn an extra $1 million in bonuses based on games started.

Barmes, who will be 35 at the start of the 2014 season, will serve as a backup and defensive complement to Jordy Mercer.

In 2013, Barmes hit .211 with a .249 on-base percentage. Mercer eventually began to receive more starts as the season progressed.

“We’ve kept an open door with Clint as we’ve progressed toward trying to fill that middle utility spot we’ve talked about someone to complement Jordy,” general manager Neal Huntington said Wednesday.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday that Barmes entered free agency seeking regular playing time.

“He wanted to see if there was a job to be available to play a large volume of games to be a starting shortstop,” Hurdle said. “If there’s not, I think a conversation could be had about his opportunity to revisit here.”

ESPN first reported the agreement.

Rule 5 draft

The Pirates lost left-hander Wei-Chung Wang to the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday in the Rule 5 draft.

Wang, 21, pitched in 12 games, starting 11, for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates in 2013. He struck out 42 batters and walked only four in 471/3 innings and had a 3.23 ERA.

The Brewers took a risk on Wang, who has not pitched above rookie ball, because they have to keep him on the major league active roster all season or place him on waivers. If he clears waivers, they must offer him back to the Pirates.

Wang has pitched only one year in pro baseball since signing his first pro contract in 2011. Usually, that would mean he would be ineligible for Rule 5 selection. The Pirates discovered Wang needed Tommy John ligament replacement surgery after he signed his contract, though, and had to void the deal.

When teams void a contract, the Rule 5 stipulations, which allow for four or five years depending on the player’s age when he signs before the player becomes eligible, no longer apply.

“Once you sign him to a new deal, at that point once it’s taken care of, at that point the player is then eligible for a Rule 5 draft every year,” Pirates director of player personnel Tyrone Brooks said.

The Pirates also lost two minor leaguers in the minor league phase of the draft: catcher Charles Cutler, who went to the Chicago Cubs organization, and right-hander Roberto Espinosa, who went to the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the minor league phase, the Pirates selected right-handed pitchers Tyler Sample from the Kansas City Royals, A.J. Morris from the Cubs and Felipe Gonzalez from the New York Yankees.


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

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