Report: Pirates bring back Jeff Karstens on one-year deal

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have re-signed right-hander Jeff Karstens to a one-year contract, pending a physical. It’s believed to be worth $2.5 million, which is less than the $3.1 million he made last year.

Karstens was non-tendered by the Pirates in late-November and there hasn’t been any buzz about him coming back, so this news comes as a bit of a surprise. The Pirates had agreed to a two-year deal with left-hander Francisco Liriano before word of an injury to his right (non-throwing arm) surfaced last week, so one wonders whether this means the club has officially moved on. At the very least, Karstens gives the Pirates a reasonably-priced fallback if the two sides can’t agree to an amended deal.

Karstens, 30, threw just 91 innings in 2012 due to hip and shoulder injuries. He has a 4.31 ERA in 535 innings with Pittsburgh over the past five seasons.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.