Pirates Bring Back Jeff Karstens on a One Year Deal

Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have brought Jeff Karstens back on a one year deal.

The decision to non-tender Karstens was a questionable move earlier in the off-season. Karstens has a history of injuries the last few years, but when healthy in the last two years he’s been a good pitcher. You could probably pencil him in for 15 starts, which is what he had last year. That amounted to a 1.7 WAR after he posted a 3.97 ERA in 90.2 innings.

I don’t know if this means the Pirates will be out on Francisco Liriano or Shaun Marcum. Karstens could be returning in the Kevin Correia role, serving as the long-man out of the bullpen and the sixth starter in the rotation. I’ll update this post when more information becomes available.

UPDATE 5:52 PM: Brink reports that the deal is worth about $2.5 M and is pending a physical. He also says that Karstens will compete for one of the final two rotation spots. That doesn’t speak well for the chances of also signing Marcum and Liriano. Then again, it doesn’t say Karstens is guaranteed a spot. The Pirates would be at around $62.6 M in payroll after this move, not counting the Liriano money. Karstens was projected to earn $3.8 M through arbitration before he was non-tendered.

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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 AccuScore.com, 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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  • da bux

    WOW, didn’t see that coming. God 4 depth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.r.edwards.3 Scott R Edwards

    This made my day! All Karstens has ever done when healthy, is take the ball in whichever role he is put in, and pitched well. Great team player! Welcome back Jeff!

  • IC Bob


    I have been very critical but I love this move.

  • da bux

    When can we expect the depth chart updated on the players tab? Looking forward to seeing where he slots. Depending on whether or not anymore signings occur, I see him penciled in as a #4/5 starter, and not as long relief.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Wilbur Miller maintains the player pages. In this case he won’t have to create a new page, but it takes some time to update the chart.

      • da bux

        Tx, Tim! You thinking SP or long relief?

      • http://users.rcn.com/wtmiller/pirateprofiles.htm WTM

        Heh, just got home. Gimme an hour or so.

        They’ll talk about him competing for a spot, but unless they add somebody else I bet he’ll be the 4th starter.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

          Agree with you WTM

  • jg941

    Gotta hand it to the FO on this one……well played.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirk.vandergrift Kirk Lee

    Awesome news. Well worked by Huntington. I was pretty disappointed when they let him walk, but now we get him back at 2/3 the price.

    • wkkortas

      Exactly–the right guy at the right price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    This made my evening.

  • http://AOL totall

    Karstens, give me a break. He is a cross between a has been and never was. Ever wonder why he was left unsigned ???

    • jg941

      Aw, c’mon, Dejan……lighten up a little……enjoy the moment…….

    • Y2JGQ2

      Did you actually watch him pitch? Great Control, good ERA, good batting average against. Can work out of the rotation or relief. How many pitchers on the market can say that?

    • https://profiles.google.com/106319534587520336922 Rick Peluso

      This is one of the worst comments I’ve seen on the site. How do you bash a pitcher who for the last two years took the ball whenever the Bucs needed him to and consistently got the job done? He ended losing streaks as a starter, took on opponents’ top pitchers and matched them, as well as selflessly moving to the pen to help the team when they needed relief help. Yes he has injury problems but when he’s out there he performs as evidenced by a sub 4 era over the last two years, a BB/9 under two, which is a stat other starters struggled with, and a 2.9 WAR which could have been better had he avoided injury last year. To throw around has been and never was is completely misguided, it is a blessing no other teams signed him and I for one am ecstatic to have JK back.

      • http://AOL totall

        I call them as I see them and I disagree with your opinion. I have watched him many times at PNC and on TV. Based on your opinion he should have already signed a 2-4 year deal at 6mil +.

        I give you another one to bash me on. Cutch is not the best CFer on the the team but Marte is. He has a stronger and more accurate arm than Cutch and Cutch cannot handle balls hit straight over his head. Cutch has good speed and can go into the gap in leftcenter field but so can Marte. The Pirates do not want to upset Cutch so they won’t make the move. Before you start your bashing, watch Cutch with balls hit over his head and that is his only weakness.

        • http://daleberrasstash.blogspot.com/ Kevin Creagh

          You’re not breaking new ground on the Cutch-Marte angle. Pretty much all of us here at P2 have been pushing for that.

          NH feels confident that the new coaches brought in can help Cutch with his positioning and throwing. I’m skeptical myself.

          • jg941

            It is kind of an obvious move that has upside for the team – what do you guys think is really going to hold that up further? I’d be surprised if it was solely because of Cutch’s ego. He’s signed long-term so it doesn’t really impact his “market-value” for the next 5 years (a t which point he wouldn’t be ideal for CF anyway), and he’s smart enough (I think) to see the near-term team value in the move.

            I could see where a move to, say, lead-off hitter, would cause someone like him to balk, but it seems like the Marte/Cutch outfield switch is a no-brainer at this point. Thoughts on the likelihood that we see that soon?

            • http://daleberrasstash.blogspot.com/ Kevin Creagh

              In the past, management has responded by saying “You tell Cutch he has to move”, which is humorous to a point.

              At the recent Piratefest, NH told us that due to PNC’s giant LF, they really need two CF’s and is excited to see Marte patrol it. He also commented about additional coaching for McCutchen.

              Short answer — don’t hold your breath on that switch anytime soon.

  • pirate fan

    Is there any chance they still sign Marcum or Liriano. Is there any chance they sign both?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I’d say no chance they sign both, but there’s still a chance they could sign one of them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        Prob Liriano at a reduced price is my guess.

        • Y2JGQ2

          Paying liriano more than 5.5M a year for two years is too much, 2 years 10 million is all i’d give him.

      • pirate fan

        Who would you rather they sign?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

    I’d still like to see Liriano as the #4, McPherson or Locke at #5 and Krstens as insurance for the 3/4/5 spots. He should still pick up 10-15 starts under that scenario, and it gives the Bucs flexibility to add payroll in the summer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Speaking of Dejan, here’s what he said when JK was non-tendered:

    November 30th, 2012

    By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

    The stupidity multiplies.

    Best wishes go to Jeff Karstens, the Pirates’ most consistent starting pitcher the past two seasons and a good human, to boot. Was among most involved in the community and never came close to seeking credit for it.

    Projections were that he’d make $3.8 million through salary arbitration.

    And trust me, this won’t be one of those where the pitcher agrees to come back at a lower rate. He’s out of here.

    If DK predicts ANYTHING about the Bucs, ‘trust me’, it will be WRONG.


  • Y2JGQ2

    Hey I have been calling for it- I’ve been touting it, and we DID it! I’m surprised but it’s an AWESOME move for 2.5 million. This is the type of move a winning team makes.

  • Ecbucs

    glad he is back. Wonder if he has any incentives based on starts or innings (not sure exactly which stats can be used for incentives).

    Up until 2011 I thought Karstens was a marginal pitcher and that D. Cutch was just as good. But Karstens has proven to be a real pitcher.

  • http://twitter.com/beatembuccos21 beatembuccos21

    Credit where it is due: kudos to NH on this move.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 jlease717

    This is good news. If it’s linked to Liriano not coming for the amount of money reported earlier, it’s better news.

  • ATL_Bucco86

    I like the signing ti bring Karsten back to Pittsburgh, he will help out our rotation, but in all reality if we dont continue to pursue Lariano and/or Marcum our rotation wont be any better than it was last year. McPhearson and Locke have not proven themselves as of yet. So we will go into spring training with the same/or slightly worst rotation than we did last year.

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