The Pirates’ efforts to sign Neil Walker to a long-term contract last summer went nowhere, but Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that they could give it another shot this offseason.
The timing is right for negotiations, as Walker is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter as a Super Two player. The 27-year-old batted .280/.342/.426 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI and a .768 OPS in 129 games this past season. Walker’s .770 OPS is eighth-highest among second baseman since 2010 (min. 1,500 plate appearances), so while he’s not a star, he’s been plenty productive for Pittsburgh.
Walker missed some time with a back injury down the stretch and was diagnosed with a herniated disk in September, so the Pirates will surely want to get a read on his progress before they commit long-term.
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.