The Pittsburgh Pirates have made some key offseason moves this past December and are looking to break their playoff dry spell. Monday, the team brought back a key pitcher in Jeff Karstens. The Pirates and Karstens agreed to a one-year deal that is expected to be worth $2.5 million, which is less than the previous $3.1 million Karstens made last season.
There was no expectation of Karstens coming back to the team after Pittsburgh non-tendered him in November. The surprise gets bigger since the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal before there was any known problem with Liriano’s arm. The Karstens deal seems like a contingency plan since the Pirates do not seem to have interest in Liriano any longer.
Karstens had a lot of problems with his hip and shoulder in 2012 but Pittsburgh seems to have liked what he did regardless of his injuries. In 19 games, he was 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA, 66 strikeouts and a 1.147 WHIP. In his five-year career with the Pirates, Karstens has mustered a 23-35 record and an ERA of 4.31.
Heading into spring training, Karstens is expected to the fourth starter but with his injury problems, that could always change. A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are expected to lead the pack and try to get this team back to the playoffs and not blow the NL Central lead like the team did last season.
The team is also expecting Charlie Morton to comeback any time from Tommy John surgery. Morton underwent the surgery June 14 of last season and if healthy, could return in the middle of the year.