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  1. Speaking as a life long Pirates fan, I would love to see this happen. If he can stay healthy I think he is a very solid 2B with good offensive upside. Plus I don’t think there is any 2B in the minors waiting to bump him from the lineup. At some point if the Pirates really are going to contend, they are going to have to start paying out this type of money to at least a handful of players.

    Comment by Utah Dave — February 25, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  2. As a neutral observer, extending a guy like Walker makes a lot of sense for the Pirates. A 3 win player on the open market would probably get even more than $11 million when you compare it to other players deals this past offseason (Upton, Swisher, Guthrie for example)

    Comment by JA311 — February 25, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  3. As I Pirates fan I’m going to be in the minority but I wouldn’t want to do a deal like that. This deal would take lock him until he was 33. That’s a little late for a second baseman with back problems. I’d be all for a four year deal, including this one, with two options years though. Say a four year 25 million dollar deal. 24 million for 2013-2016 and a 500K buyout for each option year. That way the Pirates control him through his age 30 season and can keep him another two years should he be worth it.

    Comment by David — February 25, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

  4. Why would Walker want that contract, though? $25 million over four years is just over $6 million per. He got more than half that his first year of arbitration. I would guess that the Pirates would need to pay at least $32-35 million on a four-year deal, and 4/38 seems more likely.

    Comment by Josh — February 25, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  5. Wouldn’t go more than 4/36. He’s already locked up til his age 31 season. How much more value do you think you can get out of a average power, good OBP 2B than that? OBP is a risk to tank as he slows down and the back is a major red flag.

    Comment by Retirenutting — February 25, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  6. I’m of the opposite opinion. For a team like the Pirates, handing out big contracts to non-elite talents seems like a terrible idea. The fact that Walker’s already under control for a long time (through age 30, about the point when 2B seem to fall off cliffs) makes extending him an even more dubious proposition. It seems like the smart move would be to wait a few years and get the lay of the land at that point.

    Comment by epoc — February 25, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  7. Walker did not fail to make it as a thirdbaseman. His defense at thirdbase was fine. In fact, he was well regarded defensively. But he had Pedro Alvarez to beat out. And the Pirates FO did not believe in his bat. He was pegged as a utility player. But Walker began to make adjustments. He began to hit at AAA. When the time came for him to claim secondbase as his, he succeeded. He’s now plays acceptable defense and he hits well enough to have entrenched himself at that position. Only his back will move him out of the lineup anytime soon.

    Comment by szielinski — February 25, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

  8. I don’t see why they need to be in any rush to sign him up, they already have 4 years of team control , surely a team with a limited budget has more to lose than gain by signing a player up long term unless he is elite? Also wasn’t aware of his back problems which would warn me off a deal even more.

    Comment by Le Vagabond Paresseux — February 26, 2013 @ 3:23 am

  9. Let’s not get carried away. Just by standard numbers, we can tell Walker was pretty bad defensively at third – 63 errors in 353 games, and a .933 fielding percentage. The major league average fielding percentage for a third baseman hasn’t fallen below .950 since 2001.

    Also, keep in mind that the minor league scorekeepers in Walker’s home parks were likely coached as to how they should be scoring those games, since Walker was a top prospect.

    Comment by Paul Swydan — February 26, 2013 @ 5:16 am

  10. I agree with most of the comments above, except to add that I wouldn’t mind seeing NFW locked up long term to a team friendly deal(IE: Hometown discount), but signing him to an extension based on what he is likely to be worth, when you already have him cost controlled for those seasons makes… little sense. He seems to be in the classic player career arc for a 2B, which makes him a safe bet to continue producing the lines he has. Being a hometown kid, I’m sure that at the end of the arbitration process he’d give the Pirates an opportunity to make an extension offer, but I feel by the time that happens a few things will have occurred. Hanson should be ready to take over at 2B (assuming he fails at SS, a fairly safe bet), Walker will be on the downside of his prime years and commanding 10M+ a year from any suitor. As much as I love the Pine-Richland grad, I just don’t see how that’s going to work for the Pirates at that amount.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 26, 2013 @ 7:37 am

  11. szielinski is partly correct. Technically he didn’t ‘fail’ as a 3B, he was moved from that spot when the Pirates drafted Alvarez, just as he was moved from Catcher when the Pirates drafted Tony Sanchez. There’s a chance, however small, that he could have made it as a major league 3B.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 26, 2013 @ 7:40 am

  12. Also, I lol’d a bit when you said ‘positive press’ and ‘pirates’, in the same sentence.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 26, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  13. This exactly. Hopefully the Pirates learned this lesson with Jose Tabata.

    Comment by epoc — February 26, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  14. The Tabata deal was different to a degree, Tabata had one decent season, and the Pirates signed him to an incredibly low dollar amount based on the age/production factor. Sure, in hindsight that deal is looking like a back-breaker, but at the time it was universally praised as a great move.

    Walker on the other hand now has several seasons of above average play at a relatively scarce position. That, coupled with his current age make this different than the Tabata deal. We should be open to a discounted deal, but it’ll be hard to stomach a 5/45 signing at this point, maybe a year or two from now might make a little more sense.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 26, 2013 @ 8:37 am

  15. I’ll echo some of the others who disagree with there being any urgency for an extension. Walker is under control through 2016, so he will hit free agency as a 31 year old. He doesn’t hit a ton of HR so his arbitration prices will remain affordable. I think you wait and see here. You can always extend him prior to 2015 with 2 years of control left. He’s never going to be a big money guy so there is minimal risk in letting him play his contract out.

    Comment by Pirates Hurdles — February 26, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  16. BTW, I say this as someone who loves Neil Walker and fully gets the hometown hero value that he has.

    Comment by Pirates Hurdles — February 26, 2013 @ 9:24 am

  17. “Also, keep in mind that the minor league scorekeepers in Walker’s home parks were likely coached as to how they should be scoring those games, since Walker was a top prospect.”

    That’s kind of conspiratorial…any evidence of this actually happening, other than pure conjecture?

    Comment by maguro — February 26, 2013 @ 9:27 am

  18. Agreed, I don’t think they need to be in a rush to secure Walker’s age 31 and 32 seasons.

    Comment by maguro — February 26, 2013 @ 9:31 am

  19. Martin Prado’s 4/40 deal a season away from FA may be reasonable for Walker.

    Comment by Dan Ugglas Forearm — February 26, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  20. Actually Walker was moved to 3B in 2007 when Ronny Paulino was seen as the catcher of the future.

    Comment by gorillakilla34 — February 26, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  21. Well, there is this to consider.

    Comment by szielinski — February 27, 2013 @ 7:13 am

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