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Melancon, eight other Pirates avoid arbitration

Bucs exchange numbers with Walker, Alvarez, Worley

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In tune with the busiest fiscal day on the baseball calendar, the Pirates spent Friday crossing names one-by-one off the list 12 cases on their arbitration ledger.

By late afternoon, there were nine crossed-out names, all but the right side of the infield in second baseman Neil Walker and first baseman Pedro Alvarez, and starting pitcher Vance Worley. Earlier in the day, the parties and the club exchanged salary requests and offers for potential hearings next month.

The numbers were uncommonly close in the exchanges with Walker (asked $9 million and offered $8 million) and Alvarez ($5.75 million/$5.25 million) The numbers on Worley were not yet available. The club has split two hearings in GM Neal Huntington's tenure, and is historically 10-10 at the table.

Huntington is prepared to go to a hearing with all three unsigned players.

"As an organization, we believe there is ample time to reach agreement between the tender date and filing date if both parties are motivated," Huntington said. "As a result, once numbers are filed, we shift our attention to preparing for the hearing."

Leading off the second wave of agreements, reliever Mark Melancon agreed to a 2015 contract for $5.4 million following a season in which he excelled both in setup and subsequently closing roles. Melancon was eligible for arbitration for the second time after earning $2,595,000 in 2014.

Tony Watson, considered a closer-in-the-making, agreed to $1,750,000 in his first year of eligibility. As the first lefty reliever in club history selected to the National League All-Star team, Watson earned $518,500 in 2014.

Travis Snider settled at $2.1 million, a raise over his $1.2 million salary in 2014, when he left the bench to bat .289 in the last two months as the regular right fielder.

Recently-acquired Sean Rodriguez, a third-year arbitration subject, agreed at $1.9 million.

In the minutes before the 1 p.m. ET deadline for exchanging salary figures for potential hearings, third baseman Josh Harrison, relievers Antonio Bastardo and Jared Hughes, and catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart reached agreements on one-year deals.

Harrison and Hughes, both in their first year of arbitration eligibility after earning slightly over the Major League minimum of $500,000 last season, reportedly settled for $2.8 million and $1,075,000, respectively. Hughes is a Super Two player, leaving him with three more years of arbitration eligibility.

Stewart and Cervelli, both second-year arbitration players, agreed to $1,225,000 and $987,500, respectively. That is an aggregate of $2,212,500 for the tandem that will get the bulk of playing time as the replacements for Russell Martin -- who will be earning $7 million in the first installment of the five-year, $82 million contract he signed as a free agent with Toronto.

Bastardo settled for $3.1 million after earning $2 million last season with the Phillies. Bastardo was eligible for arbitration for the third time, as is Walker, who earned $5.75 million last season.

The day's transactions, including the finalization of Jung Ho Kang's four-year $11 million deal, brought the Pirates' 2015 payroll for 18 players under contract to $64,837,500.

Walker enjoyed a career season in 2014, highlighted by hitting a club record 23 home runs by a second baseman. An appendectomy in mid-June contributed to limiting him to 137 games. As a Super Two player, this is his third of four arbitration years.

Alvarez, in a unique situation, is up for salary arbitration for the second time. His planned switch from third to first base could complicate arguing his case in front of an arbitration panel.

Worley is arbitration-eligible for the first time but, like Hughes, is a Super Two player.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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