Pirates have been trying to sign Starling Marte to an extension

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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that the Pirates have been thus far unsuccessful in signing outfielder Starling Marte to a multi-year contract extension. According to reports, Marte turned down at least two offers. The two sides remain open to negotiations, however.

GM Neal Huntington explained the benefit of locking up players early:

“The (advantage) is the same as any multiyear extension,” Huntington said. “You’ve got a chance to set your costs, and it can help you build around that player who you think is going to be an integral part of your future. Because of the enormous risk that you’re taking, you’re looking to save a few dollars, either on the front side in the arbitration years or on the backside in free agent years.

“The player’s risk is he outperforms the contract. If he does that, he’s got a huge free-agent contract staring him in the face. The (possible) downside if he turns it down is he never gets another offer, so he never gets that money back.”

Marte, 25, still has two seasons to go until he is eligible for arbitration and will not hit free agency until after the 2018 season. In his first full year in the big leagues in 2013, Marte slashed .280/.343/.441 with 41 stolen bases. Along with above-average defense in the outfield, Marte ranked among the most valuable outfielders in baseball last season.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.