Pirates Offered Gregory Polanco a Seven Year Contract

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have offered Gregory Polanco a ten year contract, and that the outfielder rejected the deal. The reported deal would have been seven years with a guarantee of a little less than $25 M, along with three option years.┬áThe seven years would buy out Polanco’s years of control, while the three option years would take care of his first three years of free agency.

This sounds similar to the situation that the Houston Astros were in with George Springer, when they offered him a long-term deal during Spring Training, then sent him down when he rejected. The reason Polanco is currently down is due to Super Two status. Passan indicates that he probably would be in the majors right now if he accepted the extension, and I think that’s correct. This is not a good situation for the Pirates to be in, as Polanco could take the same route as Springer, and threaten legal action. I don’t believe Springer ever seriously pursued that, and the Astros brought him up after a few weeks, getting an extra year of control.

As for the contract, the $25 M sounds about right for where Polanco is with his development. He has zero experience in the majors. By comparison, Starling Marte signed an extension for $31 M guaranteed, buying out control of his first three free agent years. That deal came after Marte had one full season and one partial season in the majors.

Not many players sign deals this early in their careers. The one player who stands out here is Evan Longoria, who signed a six year, $17.5 M deal, with three option years. That deal included a clause for Super Two status, which Longoria eventually received, paying him a few million more.

Polanco is the type of guy who you’d want to extend early. He might not be a star player when he arrives, but he projects to be a star player in the future, and the earlier you can get him under control, the better.

UPDATE 8:25 PM: Jon Heyman adds to the report that Polanco could have received $50-60 M over the course of the deal if all three option years were picked up. By comparison, Andrew McCutchen’s deal paid a maximum of $65 M for two free agent years. Marte’s deal pays $52 M maximum for three free agent years. So it seems that the deal for Polanco would be in line with the other two outfielders.

UPDATE 8:39 PM: The Pirates issued a no-comment, comment from General Manager Neal Huntington:

“As we have done in prior situations, we will refrain from commenting on any player specific contract rumors.”

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • johndw28

    Wow. This is crazy. Injury risk of course but I think Polanco would be foolish to sign such a deal. I think you are at somebody who may be a 5 WAR average player even when you discount that out I would think he is worth more money.

    What a difference a year makes. Huntington eating a lot of humble pie and this doesn’t put Pirates in a good situation.

    • Matt Beam

      5 WAR player who can’t cash in for 7 more years, foolish? really depends on what the 3 option years are worth

    • pilbobuggins

      If the game was played on paper you would be correct, injuries and underperfoming are very real possibilities with such a contract. A young player who will be nowhere near that kind of money fo the next 6-7 years being offered that much money before he even plays a mlb game is an acceptable risk for both parties.

  • Scott Kliesen

    I expect a deal to get done soon so they can bring him up.

    • Monkshot

      I agee, I think they counter with a better offer. They see the ability, and where this season is going without him.

  • moose7195

    No good can come from this report. All it does is put unnecessary pressure on both sides. Polanco doesn’t need the distraction with his development, and NH doesn’t need the outside pressure that may rush a deal that could end up being detrimental to the team.

    • Lukas Sutton

      Good call, it certainly worked out that way with Marte…wait.

  • realist001

    Great way to do business. Stick it to him and leave him in AAA when he turns it down. Wow.

  • sweetleb

    ok here an idea,first option stands and than base the last 2 yrs on performance . that is only if the pirates pick up the first yr, than if he reaches numbers to increase the value of the last two yrs so be it. come on neal lets start thinking out side the box.

    • S Brooks

      There’s a reason that’s “out of the box” – it’s prohibited by the CBA. You can’t make future compensation based on performance, only on “availability” (days not on DL, AB/PA or IP/starts/games finished).

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    Can’t fault them for trying. It sounds like a decent contract offer. 3 team options for big money. Can still be a free agent at 28. Not bad.
    And for those that argue “if he’s good enough for a contract, then he’s good enough to be in the bigs”. Yes. We know it. He knows it. The Bucs know it. But they still gotta think of control on the back of it.
    But, I like that the Bucs want to lock up a really really good OF trio for the LONG TERM and at pretty big money.

    But hey, “they won’t spend money to make the team better!” Right?!
    Well, they just put up $60 mill for someone w/o a single mlb at bat.
    Argument over.

    • moose7195

      I don’t think Polanco agrees with you about it being a decent offer. And I can’t blame him because he has 2-3 looks into his potential future by accepting one of those deals early in his career. The first is Andrew McCutchen, who is massively underpaid, and will be stuck being underpaid for the next 4-5 years. If I’m Polanco, I wouldn’t want to risk that considering how good he knows he can be. The second is Jose Tabata, who took a very crappy deal early in his career, and fizzled out massively. Now Tabata’s future in the league as an everyday player is severely injured. If Polanco struggles, he may be typecast similarly while Meadows and Bell start demanding playing time. The third may be Starling Marte, who could become an entirely different reason to not take one of those deals by the end of 2014.

      • Lukas Sutton

        flipside to your clearly biased representation of the Tabata situation is that Tabata got paid early before he fizzled out and thus got paid more than he ever would have due to his play. If Polanco struggles, his values goes down and he makes less. If Polanco signs tomorrow and struggles, his value goes down and he made bank on his projections before fizzling out. Polanco made a good move by not taking a deal before playing in the bigs, but it also risks him money if he has a poor first year. That, and financial stability is something players take into account. As young as he is, he could sign a smaller deal now and still hit FA in the early 30s and get both early financial security and one big pay day later.

      • Lukas Sutton

        flipside to your clearly biased representation of the Tabata situation is that Tabata got paid early before he fizzled out and thus got paid more than he ever would have due to his play. If Polanco struggles, his values goes down and he makes less. If Polanco signs tomorrow and struggles, his value goes down and he made bank on his projections before fizzling out. Polanco made a good move by not taking a deal before playing in the bigs, but it also risks him money if he has a poor first year. That, and financial stability is something players take into account. As young as he is, he could sign a smaller deal now and still hit FA in the early 30s and get both early financial security and one big pay day later.

        • moose7195

          According to the article, Polanco’s potential deal only guarantees him 25M over 7 years. If he comes up and struggles, then he isn’t being overpaid that much and the team doesn’t have enough of an investment in him that would force them to play him. That makes him expendable, just like Tabata is now. So you are right, he’ll get financial stability for a few years, but what happens when the team doesn’t take the option years? He’ll be a free agent with poor ML experience and very little leverage to demand anything.

          • Lukas Sutton

            Even if they pass on the option years he got more than he would have in arb had he struggled. If he does struggle his arb prices go down drastically, thus making a deal like this better for him.

      • BellSupplyCO

        I believe Tabata received a 15 million dollar contract. I believe that 15 mil is the only reason Tabata is on the 40 man now. That was a really good deal for Jose. And a fair risk for the Pirates to take on him. They are offering Mr. Polanco 25 million dollars, guaranteed. Think about that number for a minute. Jose Tabata would not be set for life had he not signed that contract. I bet Mr. Polanco signs and soon. Its stupid to walk away from stupid money. 25 MILLION DOLLARS MAN!

  • BurghEBurg

    On the Trib site the story says this offer was made during spring training, anyone know if that’s the case?