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Pirates bypass arbitration, ink Dickerson, Kela

Duo joins Feliz in reaching agreement on one-year deals
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates will bypass the arbitration hearing process again this year after agreeing to terms Friday with left fielder Corey Dickerson and setup man Keone Kela.

The Pirates settled with Dickerson on an $8.5 million salary for 2019. They will pay Kela $3.175 million this year.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates will bypass the arbitration hearing process again this year after agreeing to terms Friday with left fielder Corey Dickerson and setup man Keone Kela.

The Pirates settled with Dickerson on an $8.5 million salary for 2019. They will pay Kela $3.175 million this year.

Friday was the deadline for clubs to exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players. The Pirates are a "file and trial" team, so they do not negotiate one-year deals after exchanging figures. The Pirates' last arbitration hearing took place in 2017 against then-closer Tony Watson. The club won that hearing.

With a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, Pittsburgh's projected Opening Day payroll is approximately $73 million.

Dickerson joined the Pirates last February, hit .300 with an .804 OPS and exceeded even the most optimistic expectations on defense. The 29-year-old's home run total declined from 27 to 13, but he nearly cut his strikeouts in half and won his first Gold Glove Award in left field.

Dickerson earned $5.95 million in 2018. This is his final season of arbitration eligibility, so unless the Pirates sign him to an extension, he will become a free agent at the end of the year.

The Pirates acquired Kela from the Rangers on July 31, sending prospects Taylor Hearn and Sherten Apostel to Texas in exchange for the right-handed closer. Kela settled into a versatile setup role for Pittsburgh, striking out 22 while posting a 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings over 16 appearances before he was shut down in September.

Video: STL@PIT: Kela fans Molina in Pirates debut

Pittsburgh shut down Kela, who recorded 24 saves for the Rangers and worked 52 innings overall last season, to ensure that he will be ready for this year. The 25-year-old has not worked 60 innings in a season since his rookie campaign in 2015.

Kela earned $1.2 million last season. This was his second trip through the arbitration process, so he will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season. Kela will work as a high-leverage setup man in front of Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez.

The Pirates previously avoided arbitration with right-hander Michael Feliz. The Bucs agreed on Nov. 30 to sign Feliz, arbitration-eligible for the first time, to a split contract that will pay him $850,000 in the Majors and $375,000 in the Minors.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson, Keone Kela