Pirates avoid arbitration with pitcher Musgrove, 8 others

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PITTSBURGH (AP)The Pirates avoided arbitration with right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove and eight others on Friday as the club tries to bounce back after finishing with the worst record in the majors in 2020.

Musgrove, the team’s opening day starter in 2020, will make $4.45 million after going 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA last season while making a pro-rated $1,037,037 of a $2.8 million salary. The 28-year-old could help anchor the top of the rotation along with Jameson Taillon, the emphasis on ”could.” With the Pirates in full rebuild mode, Musgrove is one of their few major-league ready trade chips as they look to restock their prospect pool.

Catcher Jacob Stallings, a Gold Glove finalist while dealing with a pitching staff ravaged by injuries, earned a significant raise. The 31-year-old’s pay jumped from $586,500 ($217,222 pro-rated) to $1.3 million. Stallings hit .248 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in his first full season as a starter.

Infielder Colin Moran, now the de facto starting first baseman after the Pirates traded Josh Bell to Washington on Christmas Eve, earned a bump from $593,500 ($219,815 pro-rated) to $2.8 million. Moran hit .248 with a team-high 10 home runs in 2020.

Second baseman Adam Frazier, like Stallings a Gold Glove finalist last season, will make $4.3 million. Frazier, who made a pro-rated $1,037,037 of $2.8 million in 2020, hit .230 with seven homers and 23 RBIs last season. Frazier, like Musgrove, could be on the move considering the glut of options in the middle infield and Frazier’s versatility.

Left-handed pitcher Steven Brault, who carved out a spot at the back of the rotation, earned a raise to $2.05 million from $218,704 prorated of a $590,500 salary. Brault struggled early but was impressive in September, going 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA.

Chad Kuhl, who returned in 2020 after missing most of two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, will earn $2.13 million, up from $311,111 prorated of $840,000. Kuhl went 2-3 with a 4.27 ERA in 11 appearances (nine starts) last year.

Reliever Kyle Crick, limited to seven appearances due to injury, will make $800,000, an increase from $218,519 prorated of $590,000. Richard Rodriguez, who figures to enter spring training as the closer after racking up four saves last season, jumped to $1.7 million from $234,630 prorated of $633,500. Reliever Chris Stratton will earn $1.1 million in 2021, an increase from $217,963 prorated of $588,500.

The Pirates also signed veteran infielder Wilmer Difo to a minor-league contract. Difo spent the first six years of his career with the Washington Nationals. Difo is a career .247 hitter with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs in 373 games.

Pittsburgh added 15 international signings on Friday, including 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Shalin Polanco, considered one of the top international prospects by Baseball America.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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