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Gregory Polanco Sent to AAA

Gregory Polanco Sent to AAA

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have sent Gregory Polanco to Triple-A. The move will be short-term, as the minor league season only has a week left. As he says in the tweet below, no corresponding move has been announced.

Polanco has a .241/.308/.349 line in 249 at-bats this season. He has been struggling lately, going 1-for-30 in the last few weeks. In that time he has been losing playing time to Travis Snider in right field, with Snider having the hot bat. There was a lot of focus on Super 2 status when Polanco was first called up. The demotion to Triple-A until the end of their season makes it less likely that Polanco will be Super 2 eligible. If he is called up on September 2nd (the day after Indianapolis ends their season), then he will finish the season with 104 days of service time.

I can’t imagine what Polanco will learn in a week at Triple-A, so this move seems to be a move to prevent him from wasting service time in the majors while he is being benched for Snider. It might seem strange to focus on Super 2 with the way he has played this year, although there have been a lot of projected impact players who have struggled initially, only to return with much better numbers their second year in pro ball. The Super 2 focus was always a long-term thing, and never about what Polanco could do immediately.

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  • gregenstein

    I’ll just say that I’d rather Polanco get playing time, irregardless of the level at which that comes. So, this makes sense to me. If he’s just going to ride the pine most nights at the MLB level, he might as well go down and get some swings in a game situation, even if it is just for a week.

    • SteveW

      Agree. I think this move is about getting him a week of AB’s, not about service time. He won’t get out of a slump sitting on the bench for the next 7 days. And the team could use a right-handed bat on the bench. Tabata right now would have more value than Polanco and he has been hot at AAA.

  • Dave

    On a side note, this is a week of MLB service time he will not get

  • John_Odermatt

    To me this has nothing to do with service time. It looks like they want to get him some at bats so he can get his confidence back. Could see a Lambo call-up.

    • gregenstein

      Or Michael Martinez.

      • Lukas Sutton

        Lambo should, deservedly, break a bat over NH head if he doesnt get a call up on this one. I could see reasons why he hasnt been up yet (blocked in the OFer, not gonna carry 3 1Bmen) but with Harrison at 3rd and now only 3 OFers he clearly is the better choice over one of the worst hitters in baseball Martinez.

        • NMR

          Assuming Travis Snider has earned the opportunity to start, Mel Rojas Jr. – not Andrew Lambo – should be the outfielder recalled from AAA.

          • has5025

            What about Tabata?

            • NMR

              Objectively, Tabby is the easy decision. Objectively, Tabby was the easy decision a month ago.

              But subjectively, Tabby has apparently done something that has management really, really pissed. No other explanation for his absence.

              • Dleeu2

                He sucks is a pretty good explanation.

      • SportOMania

        Please no to Martinez!

        • battlingbucs

          Martinez would actually be rather interesting. Pirates standing up to MLB and saying we aren’t playing by your stinking rules anymore.

          In reality though seeing as he was just sent down 6 days ago he isn’t elibgle to come up for another 4 unless there is an injury.

      • Stargell_Stars

        So sad, but true.

  • clem21

    sounds like a way to take the pressure off EL Coffee. I don’t buy he Super 2 aspect. He can a week of at bats to help contribute for the sept run.

  • piraddict

    This is just a way for Polanco to find his stroke, away from MLB pressure. Polanco is lost right now. You could even see it in his play in the field last night, the way he didn’t call off Walker on a lazy fly to mid-deep RF. With Polanco’s speed there’s no way that wasn’t his ball to catch. For the moment Polanco has lost his edge. Right now Snyder is a better option in RF. Long term Polanco is the answer, but in retrospect a full year plus in AAA before promotion to MLB would have been better for him. But hindsight is always 20/20.

  • rickster

    Who’s playing right field next week. A) snider. B) Polanco c) both. They’re both lefthanded do it’s difficult to see a platoon working

  • Ron Loreski

    This move is to make room for Barmes. The Pirates don’t want to cut Jayson Nix and lose the infield depth. Makes sense really, considering its only for a week and Snider is killing the ball right now.

    • lfhlaw

      Barmes replaces nix. You don’t need depth for depth as Barmes can play 2nd, SS, and in pinch 3B.

      • Ron Loreski

        It would still be nice to have Nix as the utility guy in September.

  • Dave

    It’s a win-win. If the Pirates are thinking that Palanco is close to Super 2, then this move is brilliant. Get him confidence and save yourself millions.

  • tim m

    neil walkers super 2 status is probably going to be the reason this upcoming 2015 year will be his last as a pirate. so if it could avoid the same thing with Polanco down the road then do it plus he is not going to get playing time over Snider right now

  • JuniataKid

    Just don’t let him anywhere near Tabata.

    • NMR

      Might be my favorite ridiculous Pirate meme of the last few years.

    • leowalter

      Is it like he would get Ebola or something ?

  • letsgobucs22

    Tim, I thought there was a rule that if you are optioned to the minors for less than 10 days, you still credit for MLB service time. Can you please confirm this rule because if that’s the case, if they add Polanco back on the MLB roster on Sept 1st, he will still get service time for this week.

    • letsgobucs22

      According to, players get credit for service time for optional assignments to the minors that are less than 20 days. Tim can confirm if he knows, but it sounds like this move isn’t going to change anything with Polanco’s service time if he comes back up in the next 20 days, which he definitely will.

      • battlingbucs

        How I have always interpreted the rule is if a player is on optional assignment for less than 20 days in a given season that season does not count as an option year and the player gets credited with a full season of service time. So since Polanco has been down more than 20 days this year it is my understanding the4se days will not count against his service time.

        • Tim Williams

          That’s how I’ve always interpreted it.

  • piratemike

    Looks like Polanco needs to start next year at AAA.
    If he does how does that effect his service time?

  • Pie Rat

    Without at-bats you can’t get out of a slump. He’s going to be mostly on the bench anyway so let him go get a few at bats. I would have liked to see Lambo come up so he could get some at-bats in before it gets crowded.

    • Lukas Sutton

      Actually a great case can be made that his slump is far more likely fatigue than poor play. He has played roughly 18 months of baseball without an extended break. He could easily just be hitting a wall where he needs downtime. Week off could help get him back on track.


    Does anyone have any knowledge of what has caused Tabata’s banishment from PBC?

  • ClayDog

    How can this possibly be a Super Two move, when this site wrote many articles back in June about how the Pirates had adroitly delayed GP’s call up so that there would be no doubt? It makes no sense… And, assuming it did (make sense) why does Tim then now scoff at the idea that the Pirates should have any concerns about whether they get that extra year of control simply because of the way he has played over the past couple months? GP was Tim’s cause célèbre for the past year-plus… has he already given up on him as a future ML all-star in favor of his next big thing, Josh Bell? Talk about a fair weather promoter!

    • Tim Williams

      My response to all of this: WTF?

      • Sean Epstein

        LOL. Yeah that makes no sense Tim. That said I actually believe that he was sent down to get some at bats and get his confidence back. Watching Polanco yesterday it is clear that there is some serious frustration issues with him. Best to get a week of at bats at Indy and then bring him up. He was of no use on the bench. The Super 2 issue is just likely a bonus .

      • ClayDog

        Per Sean below, and other many posters, your article’s primary thesis makes little sense, i.e., he was sent down to reduce his ML service time. I can’t imagine they would have sent him down — let alone sit him for more than a game — if he were consistently hitting the ball. I also was pointing out that the Pirates likely still view Polanco as having significant long term value, in which case, of course, they should be concerned with Super Two/control, but, according to your many prior articles, they addressed it by the original delay in his call up. See, e.g., your June 4 article, in which you stated:

        “If he is called up on Friday, and remains in the majors the rest of the year, he will end the season with 115 days of service time. The projected cutoff at the end of this year is two years and 128 days. That cutoff has never been lower than two years and 122 days, which occurred after the 2013 and 2010 seasons.”

        As it turns out, he wasn’t called up for a few more days after that Friday, and so his service time is that much lower.

        That’s WTF.

  • Greg7373

    As I understand it, this move means Polanco cannot be on a playoff roster absent an injury, etc., is that correct?

    • Lukas Sutton

      No. He could be brought back up before September and they also have some room to play around thanks to Morton being injured. this move does not in itself remove Polanco from playoff roster.

    • sss45

      He’s on the 40 man roster which is all that matters I believe.

  • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

    basically this is a short term move. Polanco can keep Casa D’Oro as his jeweler.

  • FrankRestly

    A couple things that have bothered me with Polanco are:
    1. He finishes a lot of swings one handed. Not sure if that is to be quicker out of the batter’s box.
    2. I think it was the last game against Milwaukee when he came in late as part of a double switch. Looked like he was dropping his hands badly and swinging under the ball.
    Looks like he needs some handwork / footwork improvements to cover the entire plate. Dropping the hands lets you get to pitches down and away but you become susceptible to fastballs up. Better is:
    1. Change your stance to more of a crouch (Gaby Sanchez)
    2. Pitch dive with your front foot after the pitcher releases the ball (Milwaukee Brewers)
    3. Use your hands / wrists to drop the bat head to the ball (Josh Harrison)
    Gaby’s approach is the simplest to implement. It basically shrinks the strike zone.
    Again, I don’t understand the one hand finish on Polanco’s swings.

    • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

      Gabby has a shrunken strike zone, and a shrunken BA to go with it!

  • Joe Duke

    I heard a rumor that Tabata was a bad influence on Marte when he first came up. Could these moves have anything to do with mitigating his effect on Polanco?

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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, 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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