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.

Report: Rangers’ deal with Seung-hwan Oh is off

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The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.

Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.

While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.