Pirates options: Rod Barajas declined, Pedro Alvarez picked up

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Pittsburgh made a pair of expected option decisions, declining a $4 million deal with catcher Rod Barajas and exercising a $700,000 deal with third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Barajas knew the move was coming after he hit just .206 this season and has said he’d be willing to take less money to remain in Pittsburgh, but there’s little indication that the Pirates are interested in bringing back the 36-year-old.

Alvarez’s option is part of the original contract he signed after being drafted second overall out of Vanderbilt in 2008 and he’s under team control through 2016.

Carlos Martínez to pitch out of bullpen upon return from injured list

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Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said pitcher Carlos Martínez will work out of the bullpen when he returns from the injured list, The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reports. Shildt noted that the decision is based on Martínez’s needs rather than the team’s needs, which suggests he may not yet have the strength to pitch as a starter.

Martínez, 27, opened the season on the injured list due to a right rotator cuff strain. The right-hander was also injured last year, battling lat and oblique injuries. He will go to extended spring training and likely begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Based on that time frame, Martínez should be activated around mid-May.

Last year, Martínez made 18 starts and 15 relief appearances, posting a 3.11 ERA with five saves and a 117/60 K/BB ratio across 118 2/3 innings. It is unclear what role(s) Martínez will have in the bullpen, but he could eventually help set up for closer Jordan Hicks.