Pirates also working on long-term contract with Neil Walker

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This morning Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the Pirates and Jose Tabata are close to agreeing to a six-year contract and now Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review says they’re also working on signing Neil Walker to a similar long-term deal.

According to Biertempfel the Tabata deal will cover six seasons and include three team options that would allow Pittsburgh to buy out his early free agent seasons, which makes the Pirates’ motivation a little easier to understand than this morning’s report.

They’re trying to get Walker locked up with a similar deal, but apparently aren’t quite as close to completing negotiations.

Also of note is that Biertempfel says attempts to engage Andrew McCutchen in long-term contract talks “have stalled” with “no movement for weeks. McCutchen is under team control through 2015, so there’s no big rush for the Pirates, but unlike with Tabata and Walker he’s already established himself as a star player.

Tabata has hit .285 with a .348 on-base percentage and .385 slugging percentage through 175 career games, while the 25-year-old Walker has hit .280 with a .338 on-base percentage and .420 slugging percentage in 247 games. Good, solid young players, but committing upfront money to players already under team control for many years to come is a risky strategy with non-stars.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.