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.