Pirates Non-Tender Jeff Karstens

Dejan Kovacevic reports that Jeff Karstens will be non-tendered today. Neal Huntington confirmed this on a conference call about the Russell Martin signing, noting that Karstens has been designated for assignment to make room for Martin, and will be non-tendered tonight. Huntington noted that they tried to work out a pre-tender deal with Karstens, but were unsuccessful. He also said they were unsuccessful trying to trade Karstens. Huntington also added that he hoped that the door was still open, and that Karstens would be willing to return.

I pointed out that I felt non-tendering Karstens would be a mistake in my preview yesterday. Karstens was projected to make $3.8 M through arbitration. In the last two years he’s combined for a 3.59 ERA in 253 innings, with a 5.8 K/9 and a 1.7 BB/9 ratio. Those are strong numbers, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t do that when healthy in 2013. The downside is that he hasn’t been healthy throughout his career. He only threw 90 innings last year due to injuries, making 15 starts.

The injuries are a concern, but you can’t ignore the numbers when healthy. The Pirates need pitching, and they’re not going to find someone who could put up better numbers, especially for $3.8 M. We’ve already seen Scott Baker receive $5.5 M with $1.5 M in potential bonuses, even though he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and will miss the start of the season. Karstens shouldn’t have a hard time making around $4 M on the open market.

The move is also inconsistent with what the Pirates have done previously. This is a team that signed Erik Bedard for $4.5 M, even though his injury history suggested he’d only make 15 starts. There was a stronger chance of Bedard missing time than there is with Karstens.

Even if the Pirates didn’t want Karstens, the smart move would have been tendering him an offer. Huntington said they tried to deal Karstens, but he’s not going to have strong trade value today. Teams can wait and hope the Pirates non-tender him, which happened. Had the Pirates kept him, they could have tried to deal him with more leverage, since he’d be under contract. Worst case is that they’d be stuck with him, and he’d fall to the Kevin Correia role of being a swingman between the rotation and bullpen, which is convenient since Karstens was projected to make around the same thing that Correia made in 2012.

The 2013 payroll has been updated with the move.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • La Pirate

    this is somewhat surprising but probably smart. karstens is not durable and we have some young arms ready. I do think the Pirates will add a veteran arm . Karstens did some good things when healthy but when he came back last season he wasnt very effective. Lets see how it looks during spring training before we hit the panic button.

  • Stephen Brooks

    This only makes sense now if the Pirates sign or trade for a legitimate 3 or 4 starter. And even then, it would have made sense to keep Karstens as a 5/swing man. Given CH’s bullpen usage habits, it would be a really good idea to have a guy in the pen with the ability to throw 3-4 innings if needed.

  • IC Bob

    I love ready articles that says the Bucs need more pitching and within a day we cut our 3rd best pitcher. The Pirates will turn around and bring in some stiff like Bedard for 4 million and Karstons will go on and have a good year for someone else. If they end up keeping Morton this will look more stupid then it already does. I will always love the Bucs but I am moving quickly this offseason to the side that no longer can support this management team.

    • Justin

      As long as the money goes toward a durable starting pitcher, which is something Karstens was not, i will be ok with this.

      Taking a chance on someone like Marcum, who was injured last year but threw about 200 innings in the previous two years, with some of the Karstens money would make me ok with this.

      If the pirates go in with Locke and Mcpherson as the 4 and 5 starters, i am not ok with this.

      i think the model most people envision now is something like…

      and i would be ok with that. the loser of the Locke/Mcpherson take the Karstens role in long relief and hopefully nearly replicate Karstens’s production for 1/8 the money…

  • elgaupo

    I think the PIrates/PNC are becoming known as a place pitcher’s can go to reclaim value. The park is a pitcher’s park, Searage employ’s a smart program and the defense is good.

    We’ll get a AL pitcher looking to bounce back for less than < $5M. Plus McPhearson and Locke should really be in the rotation.

    • beatembuccos21

      I’d like to think you are right and maybe Searage can be a positive influence, but for every AJ Burnett there is an Erik Bedard. I’d say the book is still open on Wandy and I’m skeptical about AJ repeating his success of 2012 in 2013.

      I looked back at the history of PNC Park and looked for starters who came to Pittsburgh after having been in some other team’s rotation for two or more years. Other than Burnett and Jeff Suppan, it’s a collection of guys who didn’t reclaim any value to speak of:
      Victor Santos
      Kevin Correia
      Brian Meadows
      Jeff D’Amico
      Mark Redman
      Matt Morris
      Erik Bedard

      So, I’m not sure how you can claim the Pirates and PNC are becoming known as a place for pitchers to reclaim value.

      • Fred Langford

        We got great value out of Correia. All those other guys are a shady list though.

        • beatembuccos21

          I have no gripes with the return on investment in Correia. But I don’t think he breathed new life into his career by coming here.

          • Fred Langford

            Definitely not. He was the same guy he always was. maybe a little better.

  • jlease717

    Gee, who predicted this? Sign Martin=Cut Karstens=Pirate logic.

    Best management team in baseball.

  • Fred Langford

    Nontender a guy that gets results like Karstens but they offered Ohlendorf arbitration and got gouged a few years ago. Maybe they are feeling burned by that. If you are a righty and dont throw haed they dont want you. He’ll go to te Cards and win 14 games this year. So far i give this ofseason a D.

    • Fred Langford

      This site cant keep up with my typing…and I am a hunt and peck guy. A very fast one but still.

  • Lee Young

    Tim…I totally agree with your last paragraph.


  • PIRATES100

    Heard Resop was just traded to the Oakland A’s

  • Ian Rothermund

    Too bad, the guy is a solid pitcher when he’s healthy. My comment would be…if as a free agent, he could make anywhere between 7-8 mil over an entire season, then why not pay him the 3-4 for the presumed half season he’ll actually play?

    The dynamic of this pitching staff will be very interesting over the next year plus from the minor league arms. Aside from the coming year, I think that will really determine whether NH will have any staying power in the organization.

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