Well, we guess the search for another starter has just taken a U-turn. Deciding to stay with the devil they know, the Bucs brought back Jeff Karstens, 30, a solid but fragile righty, after refusing to tender him in November.
Bill Brink of the Post Gazette reported the deal is for a year/$2.5M pending his physical, a cut from his $3.1M salary of 2012 and much less than his expected $4M arbitration deal. He's given the Bucs 375-2/3 innings in the past three years mainly as a starter, all cut short by injury, with a 17-23 record. JK's pitched to a sub-4 ERA the past two seasons, but only managed 41 starts.
We thought the Bucs screwed up when they let him go, but he didn't draw much interest in the marketplace, so the prodigal son returned home again. The Pirates other targets, Francisco Liriano and Shaun Marcum, both have bigger physical question marks and would command much bigger deals than Karstens, both in cash and duration.
While it dims the prospects of another starting pitcher signing on, it doesn't dismiss them out of hand. Outside of AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburgh doesn't have a guy with a proven track record of dependability. But now they'll be dealing from strength rather than need, and that's a place the Pirates are rarely at.