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Bucs renew contracts of Snell, Duke

Bucs renew contracts of Snell, Duke

BRADENTON, Fla. -- With Tuesday being the deadline for teams to finalize contracts for their players with less than three years of Major League service time, the Pirates signed 25 of the 28 players on their roster who fit that criterion.

Three players -- left-handed starter Zach Duke, right-handed starter Ian Snell and outfielder Kevin Thompson -- did not sign and instead had their contracts renewed by the club.

The Pirates and Snell had been discussing the potential of a multi-year contract in recent days, under the speculation that the deal could stretch as far as four years in order to cover all three of Snell's arbitration-eligible seasons.

Monday's news that Snell's contract had been renewed doesn't necessarily mean that those long-term contract talks are dead. However, it is extremely unlikely that any deal is imminent.

After making his start against the Phillies on Monday, Snell had no interest in discussing contract specifics, preferring instead to only answer questions surrounding his on-the-field performance.

"I don't know. It's my agent," said Snell, who allowed one run in four innings. "He's dealing with that, because I don't want to deal with that. I don't want to have anything to do with that while I am getting ready for my season."

A call to Snell's agent, Joe Sroba, went unanswered.

Snell made $408,000 last season, but it was not immediately known at what figure the Pirates renewed his contract for 2008.

Duke's displeasure with the contract appears to stem from the fact that the Pirates' offer of $400,000 reflects a $10,000 decrease in salary from what the lefty made last year.

The Major League minimum this season is $390,000.

"[The Pirates] have a new system," Duke said, not getting into too many specifics. "It's a new regime. [The new system] works for a lot of guys, but not for me."

According to one industry source, the Pirates' philosophy and formula for determining contract figures has changed under the team's new management, which was ushered in last fall. While the new formula -- which takes into consideration service time and the previous year's performance, among other things -- seems to have benefited a number of players, Duke was one who wasn't.

The left-hander had a rocky 2007 season in which he missed more than two months because of injury. He struggled on his way to a 3-8 record and 5.53 ERA in his 20 season appearances.

As for Thompson, he, like Snell, said that he has left contract decisions up to his agent.

"I don't know a lot of things," said Thompson, who the Pirates claimed off waivers last fall. "My agent said a couple of things and that it made sense. That's all I know."

All of the projected starting position players and pitchers with less than three years of Major League time who have now signed their one-year contracts with the team will be making more than they did in 2007.

Looking at some of the more notable names, both outfielder Nate McLouth and left-hander Tom Gorzelanny will earn $33,000 raises, with McLouth now in line to make $425,000 this year and Gorzelanny set to be paid $419,000.

Catcher Ronny Paulino will earn $423,500 this year, a raise of $23,500 from his 2007 salary. His competition for playing time behind the plate -- Ryan Doumit -- will make $412,000, $22,000 more than he did a year ago.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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