Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jones Signs...Some Housekeeping Remains

As expected when Garrett Jones and the FO didn't exchange arb figures yesterday, a deal was in the works. AP announced that that Jones struck a one year, $4.5M contract with the Pirates. That figure is just about on the nose for his estimated arb value of $4.4M as estimated by Matt Schwartz of MLB Trade Rumors. He doubled his 2012 salary of $2.25M, and still has two years of arbitration remaining as a Super Two.

Jones, 31, had a career year, batting .274/.317/.516 with 27 homers and 86 RBI as the Pirates primary clean-up hitter, and was rumored to be on several teams trade lists. The Bucs were said to want top value for him, and by signing him proved that he had high value to them. The only question is whether the platoon player - he's weak against lefties - had an outlier season or finally figured it out, helped by Buc management limiting his exposure to lefties.

With both he and Gaby Sanchez ($1.75M) signed, Clint Robinson and Jerry Sands, both whom have options remaining, could potentially start the season at Indy; at least one of them is redundant now. Robinson scores points as a lefty off the bench; Sands is more versatile as a 1B/OF. Where that leaves Matt Hague, who is pretty well out of the picture, and Matt Curry is squarely in no-man's land, depending on the Robinson/Sands assignments.

There are two guys left to deal with, Neil Walker and James McDonald. There's a pretty sizeable gap between what they requested and the Bucs offered. The Kid asked for $3.6M and was offered $3M; J-Mac asked for $3.4M and was offered $2.65M.

McDonald's midpoint of $3.025M is close to his predicted value of $3M, so there's a good chance he and the club may meet around there. Walker will be a little more testy. His predicted value was $2.9M, which the Pirates beat by a smidge. He may end up with a hearing, as he's entering his first year of Super Two status and so is setting a baseline for his paycheck through 2016.

As Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects pointed out, that figure will mean millions of dollars one way or the other over the life of his arbitration years. Whether the Bucs, or for that matter Walker, accept the midpoint of $3.3M will be the arb season storyline in Pittsburgh

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