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.

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna could “draw a significant ban” for assault allegations

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Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested in Toronto back on May 8 on charges of assault against a woman and he has been on MLB’s administrative leave list ever since — that leave having been extended twice already.

Canadian authorities aren’t revealing any details about the case so as to protect the identity of the accuser and it’s unclear where MLB’s investigation into the matter stands at this point, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports opens his latest column with this note …

Toronto Blue Jays star closer Roberto Osuna’s domestic issue is said by people familiar with the case to be serious and involve allegations of a physical nature, which would draw a significant ban.

Heyman notes that Major League Baseball handed 15-game suspensions to Jeurys Familia and Steven Wright for domestic assault cases where there was no physical abuse — or none proven — and that Aroldis Chapman got 30 games after a police report revealed that he did get physical with the victim and also fired a gun.

It sounds like Osuna could be facing a suspension of at least 20-25 games, given the precedent. Again, though, we don’t have any actual details.

Tyler Clippard has been operating as Toronto’s primary ninth-inning man in Osuna’s absence.