Author: Aaron Gleeman

Neil Walker AP

Neil Walker and the Pirates have talked contract extension

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker have had “preliminary discussions” about a long-term contract extension.

Walker is under team control for 2015 and 2016 via arbitration, but he’s due for a raise to over $8 million and is coming off a career-year in which he hit .271 with 23 homers and an .809 OPS in 137 games at age 28.

Here’s what general manager Neal Huntington said about the potential extension talks:

We would like nothing more than to have Neil Walker end his career as a Pirate. There’s no question about that. We understand he’s a really good player, and we understand the local implications and local ties he has.

However, for now Brink says an agreement is not considered imminent.

Nyjer Morgan is going to Korea

nyjer morgan getty
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Released by the Indians in August, veteran outfielder Nyjer Morgan has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization.

Morgan had some nice seasons for the Pirates, Nationals, and Brewers, but hasn’t been a productive regular in the majors since 2011 and is now 34 years old.

He hit .341 in 15 games for Cleveland this year, but then hurt his knee and was later demoted to Triple-A. He previously spent the 2013 season playing in Japan.

Marlins “in hot pursuit” of Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau Rockies
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According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com the Marlins “are in hot pursuit” of Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau.

After several poor seasons in Minnesota following a 2010 concussion Morneau signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Colorado and got his career back on track, hitting .319 with 17 homers and an .860 OPS in 135 games.

Coors Field inflated those numbers, but Morneau’s road production was solid as well and he’d hit a combined .256 with a .726 OPS during the previous three seasons.

He’s owed $6.75 million in 2015, plus a $9 million mutual option or $750,000 buyout in 2016.

Angels don’t expect Garrett Richards to be ready until May

Garrett Richards Angels
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Not only aren’t the Angels counting on right-hander Garrett Richards to be recovered enough from knee surgery for Opening Day, manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that they expect him to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season.

Richards tore the patellar tendon in his left knee while covering first base in August, ending his season. At the time there was some optimism that he’d be ready to go for the beginning of the season, yet despite no reported setbacks in his recovery process the Angels are now being a lot more cautious.

Before the injury Richards was having a breakout season at age 26, throwing 169 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio.

Pat Neshek was “seconds away” from signing with Pirates

Pat Neshek
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Pat Neshek agreed to a two-year, $12.5 million contract with Houston this morning, but the side-arming reliever admitted to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he “was probably seconds away from signing with Pittsburgh.”

According to Neshek he told his agent to accept the Pirates’ offer, but before they got off the phone the Astros called and upped their bid when they found out.

Neshek had two-year offers from a total of eight different teams following a remarkable comeback season in which he threw 67 innings with a 1.87 ERA and 68/9 K/BB ratio for the Cardinals while making his first All-Star team at age 33.