Neil Walker loses arbitration case against Pittsburgh Pirates


For the third time, the Pittsburgh Pirates and hometown boy Neil Walker went to arbitration – and, this time, the organization came out on top.

According to multiple reports, including one from, Walker lost his arbitration hearing, meaning that he will earn $8 million in 2015 – the figure the Pirates submitted – as opposed to the $9 million figure the middle infielder had been seeking.

MLB Trade Rumors had projected Walker to earn $8.6 million this season – but the two sides ultimately never came together to find such a middle ground between the two numbers. It’s likely that – barring a contract extension in the next 12 months – the two sides will go through the process one more time prior to next season, before he reaches free agency ahead of the 2017 campaign.

Last season, Walker battled the injury bug yet again, but still managed to hit a career-high 23 home runs, while driving in 76 runs in just 136 games. He also tied a career-best with a .342 on-base percentage – while providing league average glove work at second base, evidenced by his 0.0 dWAR.

Walker, the 2004 first-round pick of the Pirates, has a lengthy history of injuries that include a herniated disc in his back in 2012 – but should he manage to stay healthy for an entire season, he could quickly emerge as one of the Pirates’ most valuable position players. In 2015, he notched his first Silver Slugger award – a testament to the work he turned in with the bat.

If he keeps it up, Neil Walker may become too pricey for the Pirates as he approaches free agency.

His 127 OPS+ was a career-best last season – and if he can continue his ascent into the elite middle infielders in the game, he may not only continue to rack up accolades, but he may very well price himself out of Pittsburgh – an organization that has become notorious for being tight with its pocketbook.

The 29-year-old infielder still netted a raise from his 2014 salary of $5.75 million – so it’s hard to imagine him being all that upset with how the process played itself out.

Pittsburgh still has unresolved arbitration cases with Pedro Alvarez, who is shifting across the diamond ahead of the 2015 season, and right-hander Vance Worley, who figures to be a critical part of the Pirates’ starting rotation this year.

Next: Pirates, Braves get together on a minor-league trade