Polanco open to extension; 'nothing' brewing now

Polanco open to extension; 'nothing' brewing now

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A year after the Pirates reportedly attempted to lock up Gregory Polanco with a contract extension, the right fielder said he is still open to the idea of a long-term deal. However, Polanco said he's heard "nothing" about similar negotiations taking place so far this offseason.

Polanco stopped by Pirate City late Wednesday for the club's annual voluntary mini-camp, and he returned on Thursday, chatting with his coaches and teammates inside the clubhouse. During the outfielder's rookie year, Pittsburgh and Polanco's representatives reportedly worked toward an extension, and according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, they came close to an agreement.

"Whatever offer they bring, I'll check it out. I'll never say never," Polanco said. "I'm not thinking about a contract right now. Whenever they come to me, I'll be here. Now, my mind is on baseball."

Over the past few years, the Pirates have agreed to long-term contracts with their core players, notably Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison, the most recent recipient of such a deal. They also signed Jose Tabata to a multi-year deal and extended recently traded right-hander Charlie Morton for three years.

Polanco, 24, is a logical guess to be next in line. He's young, talented (having once been among baseball's top prospects) and not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

Polanco's numbers improved last year, his first full season in the Majors, as he hit .256/.320/.381 with nine homers, 52 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. He put together a strong two-month stretch from July 6-Sept. 6, batting .298 with an .812 OPS, before a knee injury slowed him down in September.

Polanco's solo homer

With his knee healed and his offseason workout program in full swing, Polanco said he wants to turn his potential into performance this season.

"This year is big for me. I want to do what I can do. I want to be more consistent," Polanco said. "This is the year that I want to play how I'd been playing in the Minor Leagues, like a star player. ... I'm preparing for that."

Mini-camp notes

• Reliever John Holdzkom has spent the entire offseason at Pirate City, working his way back to full health after shoulder issues derailed much of his 2015 season. The 6-foot-9 right-hander made only 23 appearances in the Minors last year, putting together a 2.96 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.

Holdzkom enjoyed a remarkable 2014 season in which he climbed from pitching in independent leagues to the Majors, where he struck out 14 batters and allowed only two runs over nine innings for the Pirates.

• First-base prospect Josh Bell spent extra time working with Pirates special assistant Kevin Young at first base on Thursday.

• Single-game tickets for Spring Training games at McKechnie Field go on sale at 10 a.m. ET on Jan. 23, the Pirates announced. Tickets will be available at the McKechnie Field box office, online at pirates.com or by calling 877-893-2827. Pirates season-ticket holders and Bradenton Marauders can take part in an online-only pre-sale on Monday and Tuesday, and the Pirates will offer an "Early Bird" pre-sale online from Jan. 20-22.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.