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Neil Walker out with back injury, not close to contract extension with Pirates

Mar 7, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Neil Walker, Jose Tabata

Neil Walker was a last-minute subtraction from the Pirates’ lineup today because of lower back soreness.

For now the Pirates are saying he’s likely to miss just 2-3 days, but it’ll be something to keep an eye on throughout camp.

Walker played 159 of a possible 162 games last season, but saw his production decline significantly from his rookie campaign, losing 23 points of batting average and 69 points of OPS.

And while the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen finalized a six-year, $51.5 million extension earlier this week, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that a Walker deal “does not seem imminent” and “a lot of work still needs to be done.”

Walker is under team control through 2016, so there’s no big rush, but if the Pirates have faith in him being a long-term building block the mediocre 2011 season means his price is still reasonable.

  1. rambodiaz - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Walker’s 26. He’s got just above 1.5 years of ML service time. They control him through his prime years, even if arbitration could get expensive. They shouldn’t extend him until they have more data to analyze, just to be on the safe side.

    I think he’s a nice piece of the Pirates right now, but I’d hate to lock too much money into him at the expense of being able to afford a potentially-arbitration-eligible Cole, Taillon, etc… in the 2015/16 timeframe.

    • rambodiaz - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      I now see that David Todd blogged about this over at Bucs Dugout. He makes some excellent points about not extending Walker. Anyone caring why an extension on Walker should wait should read Todd’s article; his is the clearest explanation I’ve seen.

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