Help on the way for the Pirates?

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly doesn’t expect the club to deviate from their current plan, even as general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell enter the final year of their respective contracts:

1. Lame-duck years will not be regarded any differently by the
Pirates than any other years, and allowing someone to enter a lame-duck
year without an extension will not be seen as a lack of faith.

2. Coonelly would prefer that those under him never go into survival
mode and attempt short-term solutions that deviate from the team’s
overall plan. By not focusing on contract terms or arbitrary lame-duck
precedents, the concept goes, those involved are less inclined to
single out any year as one in which it would be OK to abandon the plan.

3. Coonelly displays a strong, genuine and unwavering confidence in Huntington and Russell.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.