Pirates avoid arbitration with James McDonald and Neil Walker

Jared Wickerham

The Pirates have avoided arbitration with James McDonald and Neil Walker.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have avoided arbitration with James McDonald and Neil Walker, signing both to 1-year contracts for 2013, the Pirates announced via their Twitter account.

McDonald's contract is for $3.025 million and Walker's is for $3.3 million, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman mentions that both are midpoint settlements between both side's arbitration figures.

McDonald is in his first year of arbitration, while Walker is in his first year of eligibility as well under the super-2 provision.

McDonald, 28, was acquired in 2010 from the Dodgers during the season. He has emerged as an effective starter for the Pirates, posting identical 4.21 ERAs over the past two seasons in the Pirates' starting rotation. He was acquired in 2010 for reliever Octavio Dotel.

Walker, 27, played 129 games for the Pirates last season and hit his way to a line of .280/.342/.426. He played all of his games but one at second base.

The Pirates will need sizable contributions from both in 2013 if they would like to break their playoff-drought.

McDonald will be joined in the rotation by recent free agent signing Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and Jeff Karstens.

Walker was drafted in the first round of the 2004 Amateur Draft by the Pirates, and has played with the organization his entire career. He should join Garret Jones, Clint Barmes, and Pedro Alavarez in the Pirates infield.

Although General Manager Neal Huntington inherited Walker, McDonald was a savvy acquisition by him, as he traded a few months of a middle reliever for a serviceable mid-rotation pitcher. While McDonald will start to get relatively expensive, he will still be paid well-under market value for the next few seasons.

Walker is one of the more underrated second baseman in the game, as his career 111 OPS+ at second base is very good, especially when combined with what is considered to be good defense. He is going to be a key part of any success that the Pirates have over the next few seasons.

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