SAN DIEGO -- For the second time in three years, the Pirates have had preliminary discussions with Neil Walker about a contract extension. General manager Neal Huntington hopes the talks are more fruitful than they were in 2011, when they broke off quickly.
"We would like nothing more than to have Neil Walker end his career as a Pirate, there's no question about that," Huntington said. "We understand that he's a really good player, and we understand the local implications and the local ties he has."
The Pittsburgh Kid enjoyed a career season in 2014, when he set a club record for homers by a second baseman (23) while batting .271 with 76 RBIs in 137 games.
Walker earned $5.75 million in 2014, and has two more years of salary arbitration remaining. That could be the negotiating hurdle facing the Pittsburgh front office, since Walker's salary would escalate in the two arbitration years.
Do not expect any play-by-play on how negotiations with Walker's camp proceed. Huntington in fact broke with club protocol by even acknowledging they had begun, in deference to Walker's Pittsburgh roots.
"We do recognize the local importance, and would love nothing more than to have Neil play his entire career in Pittsburgh," Huntington said. "We've always worked hard not to comment on any specific player or negotiation. There are two sides to every negotiation. Sometimes the two parties find a common ground and a deal is struck.
"If we get to that point -- and hopefully we will -- we'll have an extension announcement. If not, we'll continue to do what we do behind the scenes."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.