Cole, Mercer, Nicasio settle, but not Watson

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Jordy Mercer. — MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Gerrit Cole, Jordy Mercer and Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration by signing one-year contracts with the Pirates on Friday. The retentions of Mercer and Nicasio were first reported by DKPittsburghSports.com.

The Pirates confirmed those signings Friday afternoon. Cole will make $3.75 million in 2017, Mercer will make $4.325 million, and Nicasio will earn $3.65 million. Missing from that list was Tony Watson, who will take the Pirates to a hearing in February to determine his salary. This is Watson's last year before reaching free agency.

Mercer, Nicasio and Cole beat the 1 p.m. Friday deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures. Cole's settlement came in under the $4.2 million projected by MLB Trade Rumors -- a reliable source on such matters -- if he had taken the Pirates to trial. After posting his worst ERA (3.88) and WHIP (1.44) in four major-league seasons, and his lowest number of innings pitched (116), Cole's leverage was limited, although his agent Scott Boras has been known to press the issue more than most.