(USA Today Photo)

Bucs Avoid Arbitration with Cole, Mercer and Nicasio

The Pittsburgh Pirates and right-handed ace Gerrit Cole agreed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal to avoid arbitration.

Cole went 7-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 21 starts last season while dealing with injuries to his ribs and elbow. It was a dropoff from his 2015 performance when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.

Cole, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft, is 47-30 with a 3.23 ERA in four big-league seasons.

Pittsburgh also reached one-year deals with shortstop Jody Mercer ($4.325 million) and right-handers Juan Nicasio ($3.65 million).

Mercer batted .256 with 11 homers last season. Nicasio was 10-7 with a 4.50 ERA.

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