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Pirates avoid arbitration with Francisco Cervelli

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Passan tweets that the Pirates have agreed to terms with Francisco Cervelli on a $3.5 million deal for 2016, avoiding arbitration. That figure comes in way above the $2.5 million MLBTR had projected for him, although that's not worth worrying about much -- 2016 is Cervelli's last time through the arbitration process, so this year's salary won't have an effect on his salaries for future years.

This pact won't make it impossible for the Pirates to extend Cervelli if they choose, but the deal and Chris Stewart's recent extension sure make it seem unlikely that they will. If they were going to hammer out an extension, these last couple months would have been an ideal time to do it. As it stands, Cervelli is eligible for free agency after the season.

Maybe that isn't actually the worst thing -- Cervelli is coming off a brilliant 2015, but he'll be 30 before next season starts, and the Pirates' recent experience has shown that skills like framing are still undervalued by the market. Perhaps there is, or was, a way to sign Cervelli to a relatively cheap three-year deal, say, which would have been fine. But if I were Cervelli, I'd like the idea of hitting free agency in a weak market next year. And if I were the Pirates, I wouldn't exactly be chomping at the bit to sign a catcher entering his thirties to an expensive deal, particularly when the Bucs have Elias Diaz on the way and have shown they've been able to find good catchers like Cervelli, Russell Martin and Stewart at very reasonable prices.