Pirates could explore long-term deal for Neil Walker

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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.

Manny Machado homers in return to Camden Yards

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Padres third baseman made his much anticipated return to Camden Yards on Tuesday, his first appearance there as a visiting player after signing a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres in February. The Orioles’ faithful gave Machado a standing ovation as he came to the plate for his first at-bat. He would strike out looking.

In Machado’s next at-bat, he crushed a first-pitch Jimmy Yacabonis fastball out to left-center field for a solo homer, boosting the Padres’ lead to 5-1. It marked Machado’s 100th career homer at Camden Yards.

Machado now has 17 homers on the season along with 48 RBI, 47 runs scored, and a .279/.355/.503 triple-slash line.