UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Walker will get $3.3 million while McDonald will get $3.025 million.
7:31 PM: The Pirates announced this evening that they have avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts with second baseman Neil Walker and right-hander James McDonald. No word yet on the terms involved.
Walker was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter as a Super Two player after batting .280/.342/.426 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI and a .768 OPS last season. The 27-year-old requested $3.6 million and was offered $3 million by the Pirates when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month. The two sides have previously expressed interest in a contract extension, so it’s possible they could revisit the possibility down the road.
McDonald was also arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, though not as a Super Two. The 28-year-old right-hander is coming off an up-and-down campaign in which he posted a 4.21 ERA and 151/69 K/BB ratio over 171 innings. He requested $3.4 million and was offered $2.65 million from the Pirates when arbitration figures were swapped this month.
The Padres turned out in remarkable fashion on Saturday, following up on Friday’s 6-3 win with a decisive 19-run effort to take the series from the Blue Jays. Rookie right-hander Cal Quantrill spun six strong innings, holding Toronto to three runs and striking out nine of 22 batters, but it was the Padres’ offense that really sealed the deal.
Of the 19 runs they put up, seven landed for home runs — establishing a franchise-best record for most home runs amassed during a single game.
Wil Myers and Ian Kinsler went back-to-back for the first two homers, each coming off of an Edwin Jackson pitch in the second inning. Myers’ 351-foot blast was his eighth of the season, while Kinsler’s 382-footer marked his sixth so far this spring. Two innings later, in the fourth, Jackson once again set the table for Austin Hedges, who promptly went yard with the first grand slam of his five-year career in the majors and boosted the Padres to a six-run advantage.
The home runs came for the Blue Jays, too — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. plucked one from a bouquet of sliders in the second, while Justin Smoak collected his ninth homer on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth — but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with the Padres. In the sixth, Hunter Renfroe took his turn against Derek Law and punched a two-run shot out to center field. He returned in the eighth for a second helping, sandwiching another 376-foot home run in between a solo homer from Eric Hosmer and a two-RBI knock from Myers, too.
By the time the dust settled, the Padres had gathered 19 runs on 20 hits. They finished the game just one run shy of tying their single-game record for runs scored, a feat no Padres’ lineup has replicated since their 20-7 rout of the Expos on May 19, 2001.