Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker isn’t going to discuss a long-term contract during the season, reports Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In 2013, Walker’s first year of arbitration eligibility, he will earn $3.3 million. When asked directly if he is going to discuss a contract extension during the season, Walker said that he doesn’t “plan on it”. He also said the Pirates have not yet approached him with a new offer.
The 27 year old Walker, a switch-hitter hit for a .280/.342/.426 slash line in 2012, on par with his .280/.339/.424 career line. He added 14 home runs and 69 RBIs in 530 plate appearances. The second baseman only played in 129 games, missing a lot of the second half of the season with a nagging back injury. Walker was shut down completely on Sept. 29 because of a herniated disc in his back.
Walker is a fan-favorite in Pittsburgh, being a native of the area. He attended Pine-Richland High School, where he played catcher. Keeping Walker would be a smart move for the Pirates both on the field and off. He is arguably a top-ten second baseman both offensively and defensively and with him being a fan-favorite, he helps sell tickets and merchandise.
Walker is part of the core group of Pirates that are trying to disrupt the two-decade long losing streak, along with MVP-candidate Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte.
He was drafted 11th overall by the Pirates in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. Walker made his MLB debut on Sept. 1, 2009 at just 23-years old.
The Pirates don’t necessarily need to worry about extending Walker at this point in his career, he isn’t going to reach free agency until his age-31 season in 2017.
The Pirates have plenty of things to worry about in the mean time.