Staff ace Cole, shortstop Mercer agree to deals with Pirates

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PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Pirates reached one-year deals with ace Gerrit Cole and shortstop Jordy Mercer on Friday but will head to arbitration with closer Tony Watson.

Cole will make $3.75 million this season, a significant bump over the $541,000 he earned in 2016. The former No. 1 pick went 7-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 2016 and struggled to stay healthy. He will be called on to lead a revamped staff that will include recently re-signed Ivan Nova and Jameson Taillon.

Mercer shook out of an early slump to hit .256 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs in 149 games in 2016 and will make $4,325,000 in 2017.

The Pirates and reliever Juan Nicasio reached a deal that will pay Nicasio $3.65 million. Pittsburgh agreed to terms with pitchers Drew Hutchison and Jared Hughes on Thursday.

Watson earned $3.45 million in 2016, taking over the closer's role when Mark Melancon was dealt to Washington at the trade deadline. The left-handed Watson finished with 15 saves.