The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday afternoon that they have avoided arbitration with four of their five eligible players. They agreed to deals with pitchers JT Brubaker, Robert Stephenson, Mitch Keller and Duane Underwood Jr. First baseman Ji-Man Choi is also eligible for arbitration, but he was not among the players announced. The deadline to agree to deals is today.
We covered the signings of Brubaker and Stephenson here earlier. Keller signed for $2,437,500 according to multiple sources, while Underwood Jr received $1,025,000. Choi’s projected salary is $4.5M. The Pirates are a “file and trial” team, so the two sides will likely head to an arbitration meeting in the upcoming weeks unless they come to a late agreement.
Keller went 5-12, 3.91 in 29 starts and two relief appearances in 2022, with a 3.88 FIP, a 1.40 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 159 innings. His stats improved greatly after May 13th, when he had a 6.61 ERA to start the season. After that point, he had a 3.21 ERA in 126.1 innings. His projected salary was $2.4M, so he ended up just over that mark.
Underwood had a 4.40 ERA in 57.1 innings over 51 appearances in 2022, with a 2.92 FIP, a 1.45 WHIP and a 57:25 SO/BB ratio. He was projected to make $1M, so he squeezed out another $25,000 over that projected number.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.