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.

The Red Sox seem content to let Craig Kimbrel sign elsewhere

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LAS VEGAS — Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski strongly signaled that the team was unlikely to re-sign Craig Kimbrel, telling the assembled Boston media contingent that, “we’re not looking to make a per se big expenditure in that area.” Referring to the bullpen.

Kimbrel, who saved 42 games for the World Series champs, was recently reported to be seeking a six-year contract. I doubt he gets that, but he’ll get a pretty big deal nonetheless, and the Sox obviously feel like they can manage with a cheaper option in the back of the bullpen.