With the non-tender deadline coming and going on Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates faced some decisions to make with a handful of players on their roster.
While it may have been speculated that the Pirates could non-tender a player or two from their arbitration class, the Bucs tendered contracts to all six of their remaining eligible players.
That list includes — right-handers Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Duane Underwood Jr. and Robert Stephenson as well as infielder Kevin Newman and first baseman Ji-Man Choi.
Coming off of his best year as a big leaguers, Keller is projected for a $2.4M salary by MLB Trade Rumors. Keller went 5-12 with a 3.91 ERA in a team-high 29 starts (31 total appearances.
Keller’s fellow rotation mate Brubaker is projected for an even $2M salary as a first-time arbitration-eligible player. Brubaker posted a 4.69 ERA/3.92 FIP in 28 games for Pittsburgh in 2022.
The bullpen duo of Underwood and Stephenson were both possible non-tender candidates, but both work into Pittsburgh’s plan next season for now.
Underwood posted a 4.40 ERA across 57.1 innings out of the Bucs’ bullpen last season but a much more inspiring 2.92 FIP. He’s projected to earn $1M in arbitration.
Stephenson was a late-season waiver claim by the Bucs and pitched well in a small sample in Pittsburgh. He owned a 3.38 ERA with 18 punch outs and just one walk in 13.1 innings with the Pirates. Arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this offseason, the right-hander is projected to earn $1.9M.
Newman’s future with the Pirates was also in question as he’s projected to earn $2.8M for 2023. He’s coming off of a bounce-back season at the plate in which he hit .274 with a .687 OPS for the Pirates last season in 78 games.
Finally, the newly-acquired Choi will also be tendered a contract as expected. The Pirates acquired his services from the Rays earlier this month.
The club also avoided arbitration with Miguel Andújar after agreeing to a $1.525M salary for 2023.
Additionally, the club non-tendered left-hander Manny Bañuelos and catcher Tyler Heineman who were both designated for assignment on Tuesday.
The Pirates have until Jan. 13 to exchange arbitration figures with the half dozen players and avoid a hearing.