Gerrit Cole Should Be Paid More in 2016

Rob Biertempfel posted a report tonight saying Gerrit Cole was upset with his salary, which the Pirates set at $541,000, after initially offering $538,000. The team also threatened to reduce Cole’s salary if he didn’t sign his contract, although for perspective, teams can offer players with zero to three years of service time whatever amount they want, and if the player doesn’t sign, the team can reduce his salary.

The one thing that stuck out to me in the report was that Cole was told that the Pirates had a maximum raise of $7,000 for players who are not eligible for arbitration. This is just not true. I could give a lot of examples from every single year where a player received a raise of more than $7,000, but I don’t need to look past Cole. He went from $512,500 to $531,000 from 2014 to 2015. The league minimum went up $7,500, but even if you remove that, Cole’s increase was more than $7,000.

One thing I did notice when looking over the numbers is that no player has received more than $538,000 from the Pirates prior to this season, with that amount being the original offer to Cole. Jordy Mercer is the only other player who received that amount. Granted, the MLB league minimum has gone up every year, so players in previous years would have had to receive a big increase in salary to get to that amount.

What we can do is look at the salaries of previous years relative to the league minimum that year. In looking at the 2011-2015 salaries, I noticed that not many players had received more than $30,000 more than the league minimum in a given year. Gerrit Cole will get that this year, receiving $33,500 more than the league minimum. The only other two examples I found were Mark Melancon ($31,000) and Andrew McCutchen ($38,000 in his second year).

McCutchen might have gone much higher had he not signed his extension prior to his third league minimum year. At any rate, Cole is the pitching version of what McCutchen was back then, so you’d expect he would see a similar increase. Even so, we’re only talking a few extra thousand dollars here.

But let’s get past the fake $7,000 maximum increase, and the apparent cap of $30,000 to $40,000 over the league minimum, and look at another topic. In the article, Scott Boras said that Cole would have received more with the Mets and the Marlins. This is true.

The Mets paid Matt Harvey $614,125 in his third year of league minimum pay. Granted, Harvey had combined for 11 WAR over the previous two years, while Cole was at 7.7 WAR. But they were both coming off big seasons. Jose Fernandez got an increase to $635,000 in his first full season, after a 4.1 WAR in his rookie year. Interestingly enough, he also got a raise to $651,000 the following year, despite rehabbing from Tommy John.

There are teams who pay a lot more than the league minimum, and the Pirates aren’t one of those teams. And even the salaries offered by the Pirates aren’t nearly as egregious as what the Angels did with Mike Trout a few years ago. Trout was coming off a year where he finished second in the AL MVP voting. His salary reward? A $27,500 raise to $510,000 in his second league minimum year.

The problem with this situation is that nothing will look fair for Gerrit Cole’s production. League minimum is designed to work that way. It gives clubs a huge cost advantage in their first three years of control for a player, and they still get some savings through the arbitration process, compared to what they would pay on the open market. The Pirates could give Cole $600,000, which would be a huge increase compared to what they usually give, and that would be a massive discount for his services (FanGraphs had him at $43.5 M in value last year).

The league minimum system for zero to three players is set by the CBA, which is collectively bargained by the player’s union and the owners. So the players agreed to this system which saves teams money in the early years, and they probably agreed to it because there was some other equal financial tradeoff that they received in return.

One thing about the Boras comment is that the Pirates aren’t required to give Cole an amount because the Marlins or Mets gave similar amounts to similar pitchers. That’s how arbitration works, where Cole would be able to demand and fight for a salary that is comparable to similar players at similar stages. But this isn’t an arbitration process. The CBA only dictates a minimum salary, and a suggestion that a player should be paid similar to what other teams pay their players is going away from what the CBA established.

But maybe there’s something here. If this is a big problem around the game, then the upcoming CBA would be a time to fix it. And maybe a solution to fix it would be a micro scale arbitration process, where players do get paid the same range as players with similar results, while still keeping the salaries low. But this would be difficult to implement, as it would increase the total money for the players, meaning they’d have to give up money elsewhere.

This also still wouldn’t solve the problem of league minimum players being seen as extremely underpaid. Going back to the Trout situation, he did receive a bigger raise the following year, after his second straight year finishing as the runner-up in the MVP race. The salary he received? One million dollars. That seems extremely low for a guy who was one of the best in baseball for two straight years. It also happens to be a non-arbitration record in salary.

League minimum players being underpaid fits in with a common trend in the CBA. Amateur talent saw their prices rising, and the last CBA restricted what they could earn by imposing harsh penalties if teams went over their budgets. Minor league players are criminally underpaid. The whole debate here is over a $7,000 increase for Cole, but almost everyone in the lower levels of the minors makes $7,000 per year or less. (And with that one, I would argue that while Cole should be making more, this is far from the biggest problem of teams underpaying people in their organization.) Then there’s the zero through three guys, who have no control over their salary, and get an extremely small amount, regardless of production.

The CBA is set up to severely restrict the bonuses of amateur players. It then restricts the earnings of players in the minors, and players with zero through three years of service time. So a player drafted out of high school would have his bonus restricted, then would spend maybe five to six years in the minors making less than the minimum wage in this country in most years, and then would have his salary held down for another three years until he gets his first big payday, which comes in the form of another discounted salary. And that continues for his final three years, until he hits the open market and is eligible for that big payday. Lower entry bonus, six years of being paid extremely small amounts, three years of league minimum, and three more of reduced salaries.

Maybe the solution here would be for the player’s union to fight for the smaller guys, rather than fighting to make sure the top salaries in the game continue going up. Because right now there’s a trend where they sacrifice the earnings of 0-6 players, minor leaguers, and amateur players (the last two groups aren’t even in the union and shouldn’t have their rights bargained away), while the best players in the game have gone from making $20+ M a year to $30+ M a year in only a few short years.

The Cole situation isn’t going to look good for the Pirates, because league minimum problems never look good for the team. But this is a weird situation where the Pirates aren’t in the wrong, and Gerrit Cole should definitely be paid more. The problem here is the CBA and the league minimum system. We’ll see if that changes in the upcoming negotiations this winter.

  • Pitch like the ace that you’re supposed to be and get selected to the All Star team. Voila, you’ll have now made 10K more than you did in 2015. Who knows, he may have some more bonus money due if he wins the Cy Young

  • It’s a business plain and simple. Cole got a huge bonus to sign and should be thankful. He gets what he gets. He was drafted with the expectation he would be exactly where he is today and if that’s a discount on a yearly salary so be it. I doubt anybody in the hierarchy is giggling that they are hosing Cole on money. If small market teams don’t get these undervalued discount years there would be no small market teams. Anyone in business that signs payroll checks gets this, he makes more than 98% of the population. I am saying this to Boras as we all know he is the mouthpiece here, shut up, let your client play the game and count your blessings every day.

  • It is what they bargained for and by the way he is probably making more than 95% of the workers in America, so I can not feel sorry for him.

  • Just a stupid PR move – I agree that the Pirates are doing what is technically OK – maybe even the right move- but they COULD have taken the PR high ground – why not give him a little more – and brag about being fair and generous – and hoping that this will pave the way for an extension – which we all think has pretty close to zero probability of happening.

    They can sign a bum like Sean Hurdle for 2.5M more than he is worth – but couldn’t come up with a $50K raise for their best pitcher.

    • To appease whom? The Nutting is cheap crowd? Cole, who will rake in huge cash in the not to distant future?

  • Bucs are now saying they made a mistake and didn’t include the 10k All-Star bonus in their offer. So add 10k.

    Not sure whether this is true or a PR save. In any case much ado about very little.

    Tuesday can’t get here soon enough.

  • Andrew Rothstein
    February 28, 2016 12:12 pm

    An $8 mm signing bonus as a 20-year old and now whining about an extra 30-50k … What an embarrassment … As a player rep now he can help change the system so that the younger players can get more at the expense of the older players … I’m sure there is no chance that is going to happen … This is just another kid who is under the Boras spell and can’t think for himself … Instead of whining over a few dollars maybe he could focus on figuring out a way to get Dexter Fowler or Kyle Schwarber out … He seemed to fail pretty well at that in the WC game

  • I can’t wait for the arbitration hearings :/

  • Any time you dislike the pay scale the Pirates employ, just look at the TV and Radio contracts that are food stamps compared to teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, and the Chubs. There is not one millionair or billionair in the U.S. that will pump money into the Pirates to make them a winner at huge losses. That is the reason that we attend only Pirate games and watch only the Pirates. The top 5-9 teams do not want to change the structure of baseball.

    • What does that have to do with this particular situation. The Pirates decided to give $9M to the Mets 6th starter (Niese). The Pirates decided to impose a $541K no raise salary on the All-Star leader of their pitching staff, who was just elected by his team as their player rep. The Pirates cut the annual payroll and raised ticket prices after record attendance. Read the article…$60K solves this issue. I guarantee you the Pirates are making money and this move regarding Cole was bad for the team and just bad business.

      • michael t – don’t think you understand how baseball works as far as year 0-3 and 4-6 year players work. If you did you would be commenting as you did.

        • Hi Joe. I assume you left out a word in your second sentence. I understand how baseball works through the arbitration years. I also understand that the Pirates are “within their rights.” It is my opinion that given the level of performance by Cole imposing this salary was a mistake for all the reasons I have stated in other posts. Obviously the nominal amount of money involved mattered to Cole. The distraction and bad press has already caused the Pirates more than $60K.

  • Ask Cole if he thinks that the high end of salaries should be lowered, so that the 0-3 guys can get a bit more of the pie. You think he would agree to it? Do you really think Cole will give up some of his future earnings to help the future rookies? Will he do his best ‘history of the World’ impersonation regarding the ‘poor’

    • Ha! That’s an awesome visual. Spot on observation. There is no way this situation can be spun to not make him look like a selfish, ungrateful baby. He’s such an amazing player; quite sad to see him soil his reputation.

  • I think the PBC knows the system better than anyone. They made this based on their own research. I think they know what they are doing and they obviously know they don’t need any cheap reference fuel for the fire talk.

  • I agree with everyone that thinks there’s pretty much no chance that he is here past his arbitration years as well as no chance he signs a deal buying out a few arbitration years as well as a few FA years – such a deal, for a Boras client, would require an obscene overpayment. There really is no reason for them to throw a significantly higher amount of money at him than required. To keep him happy? I’d think the 8 million bucks would still be doing that. Now he’s crying about tens of thousands? In tunnelvision, is Cole worth more than what he was offered this season? Yes. But I’m sure he wasn’t bitching when when they threw him 8 MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS before he ever stood on a mound as a pro. Talk about a showing of faith in a player. I find it hard to believe that the Pirates straight up threatened to give him league minimum if he refused to sign. What seems more likely is Boras told him that if he didn’t sign the Bucs could reduce his salary to league minimum, and somewhere along the way that morphed into “they threatened to cut my salary to league minimum.” It’s hard for me to believe representatives of a pro baseball team with plenty of experience in negotiating with agents would ever stoop to such a measure. I laughed at reading Cole say he doesn’t want this to become a distraction, right after he airs all the dirty laundry to the media! Absolutely classless move by both him and Boras. This is an issue that should have stayed in house. I’m really mad at the implication of the Pirates being cheap in this instance. They stuck their necks out when they gave him that outlandish signing bonus; the least he and his drama-queen agent can do is shut up and accept that this is the system they signed up for, which, by the way, will pay him handsomely for three seasons starting in 2017. Poor Gerrit.

    • agree Boras is driving this bus

    • Couldn’t agree more, Bill!

    • He actually didn’t sign up for this system, he is forced to adhere to something that was bargained without his say. But I do agree that going public and claiming not to want it to be a distraction is totally hypocritical.

      • Mike, point taken…but when he opted to become a pro ballplayer, he, by default, signed up to adhere to the parameters set by the league and (his future) union.

  • I favor a more player biased distribution of the revenues generated by MLB. I also consider the labor aristocracy created by the CBAs an abomination. These agreements favor stars with service time, high-revenue franchises and franchise owners in general. By favor I mean the CBAs enable the favored groups to exploit members of the other groups.

    As I see it, Cole and Boras have a defensible point because Cole belongs to an exploited group. But their demands lack credibility. They are not opposed to exploitation per se; they merely want to decrease Cole’s rate of exploitation. In other words, they want to manipulate the current system so that Cole gains what is, for him, a trivial salary increase.

    This is a demand motivated by vanity.

  • If Cole isn’t happy. All he has to do is suggest a 4 year contact. He doesn’t even have to buy out his free agent years. All he would have to do is lower the super 2 percentage numbers and submit a contract.

    That what the Pirates should do, offer to tear up this contract for a 5-6 year deal. With an opt out after 4.

  • Oh boy…For all of the rhetoric that Nutting spews about having to spend wisely and not making a move financially that would hurt the club in the future, the stance they’ve chosen to take with Cole seems short sighted. Yes, Cole is basically forced to do what the team wants him to but is that the message they really want to send to one of teams young stars? I mean it’s not like Cole is starving by any means but ” Sign this or we’re going to cut your pay from last year” seems like it would piss just about anyone off.

  • If he was told (by his agent I assume) that the Pirates don’t give raises over 7k even though they have, isn’t it also possible he was told by his agent that they played hardball and threatened a salary reduction even though they hadn’t? We are talking about Boras after all.

    • Everybody tracking this story should go read Biertempfel’s article. There are direct quotes from Cole on what he was told and what he believes the Pirates position to be. Cole was selected the team rep to the players union on Saturday. The facts speak for themselves on the take it or leave contract the Bucs imposed on Cole.
      Record attendance, team salary ranking 23rd, asset value of the club at an all-time high, Cole makes the All-Star team and finishes 4th in the Cy Young voting, ticket prices raised significantly.
      Living in the Pittsburgh area I can tell you I make a special effort to attend Cole’s starts. There are thousands more who do the same….just look at the attendance figures. Cole is extremely productive as a player and popular with the fans.
      This was a stupid move by the Pirates. $60K would have handled this. I doubt if Frank and Neil had their salaries frozen. The public fall-out and Cole’s discontent over this will dwarf the $60K. Bob, Frank, Neil…………..this was a mistake. It matters little that you were “entitled” to do this under the CBA. Don’t be surprised if the Pirates get some special scrutiny on how they are spending their revenue sharing money. They deserve it.

      • Rob’s article had quotes from only Cole’s side. NH chose not to comment, so he, and we, only got one side of the story. Nobody is arguing Cole isn’t worth more. And I’m sure Owners would be more than happy to have a pay-for-performance system in place, just as I’m sure MLBPA will never give up the guaranteed contracts.

        This story will embolden the Nutting is cheap crowd, but have zero effect on the typical fan. Very few fans even have baseball on their sports radar yet considering the 1st ST game has yet to be played. And this story will be long forgotten by April 3rd by all but the hardened anti-Nutting crowd.

        As for payroll and ticket prices, the Pirates are a bargain, even after the raise in ticket prices, compared to most teams. Don’t expect MLB to give them “special scrutiny” about how they’re spending their revenue sharing money when their payroll is in line with their revenues compared to other teams.

      • I honestly believe if they only offered $60K more, this would still be an issue. This is a ploy to get more money in the future, and was probably thought about before hand. $600,000 is still less than Harvey and Fernandez, both Boras clients that he brought up in his comments.

  • The solution to Gerrits problem seems simple to me. If you want to make more money in 2016, why not approach the Pirates about a contract. I’m quite certain that they would entertain the idea of giving him a raise if he were to sign a deal long enough to delay his eventual free agency a couple years. Of course that idea alone would give Boras a heart attack, but those are the rules.

  • Remember every dollar today is compounded many times over he arbitration years. Adding to his base now just makes his starting point higher in arb1.

    • Yep, that’s why guys like Cole are not promoted until the Super 2 deadline has passed. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

  • I love how there is less than no belief that Cole will be here in 2020. I’ll admit, the chances are probably slim – but NO chance?

    Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

  • So the Pirates should just sit back and be afraid of Scott Boras and allow the most talented pitcher, they may have ever had to walk? F that! Boras will deal simply because of the injury factor. But the Pirates will need to go well past their self-imposed ‘Cutch Cap. Cole is an ace pitcher and they don’t grow on trees.

    • Let him walk where? Unless he decides to go pitch in Japan, he’ll be a Pirate until the 2020 season. Of course Pirates could choose to trade him beforehand.

  • In 1980 Bert Blyleven threw a fit because of money and actually left the team for a couple of days. IMO caused this team to lose momentum and spin out of control. Why would Cole be selfish for a few pieces of silver? Also Cole will be gone before his second Arb.

    • Cole will stay through his 2nd arb. The question is whether we trade him prior to his 3rd arb or mid-season

    • 1980 team started spinning out of control because half the team was on coke. They had drug dealers routinely hanging out in the club house. The same club house that old Pops was the Captain of. But somehow is still idolized.

  • While I’ll admit that it’s ironic a lot of people around the internet are calling the Pirates cheap when talking about a guy they gave an $8M bonus to, I will say that it would have been fair to give him $600K this year. That amount would neither break the Pirates, nor really matter financially to Cole, but it’s just a reward for a job well done last year.

    Everyone knows his 2016 salary would have zero effect on his chances of staying around after 2019. He has Scott Boras as an agent, that should have tipped everyone off that he was gone after he put in his 6 1/2 years. So from that standpoint, you could say that they already gave him a huge bonus, why keep throwing extra money at him. I can see that argument, but we are talking about such a tiny amount in baseball terms to keep a star player happy. I just threw out $600K, but I’m sure even a little bit less would have been enough to be a nice gesture and keep him happy.

    • This is a typical Boras move creating a current issue for future payoffs. He is talking about good will here not right and wrong. It is only financially worth it to award players extra money in years 1-3, if there is some chance that they will provide discounts in years 4-7. Boras (and Cole) will never do that, he actually gets mad when his players accept less than he can possibly get them. If Boras/Cole don’t give discounts, why should the Pirates give bonuses to them.

      • You could easily say the same thing from Cole’s side. If the Pirates aren’t willing to give him a 10k raise that he has more than earned, then why should he even think about giving any kind of discount long term? All a matter of perspective….

      • Exactly correct. The same thing he did to the Mets last season with Harvey and that phony inning limit BS.

    • THIS is exactly right. The CBA may allow the Pirates to do what they do, but it doesn’t mean it was right for the team and player. If the Pirates knew what similar pitchers made at similar points with similar production then give Cole that and say “we think very highly of you and we know that no amount of compensation really shows that at this point in your career but we want to pay you similar to how the other great arms were paid at the same point in their careers.” DONE! What is $60k for someone who means as much to this team as he does?

      • Given Cole’s performance in the last game of the year I can understand why the Pirates might stay firm on their policy. Had he beaten the Cubs maybe they give him a few mores bucs.

    • I think you are right on point John. This was a major mistake by an organization that raised ticket prices and cut team payroll. The optics to the fans and the team are terrible for reasons I’ve posted elsewhere. Making your All-Star number one starter and player rep unhappy (just because you can) when $60K would solve the problem is just plain stupid and bad business.

      • Government thinks throwing money at things will solve the problem as we near 20T in national debt. If private sector businesses took the same approach, most would be bankrupt and out of business.

        The optics is more deep rooted than how Nutting and the PBC operate. It’s how many people view successful businesses in general and the lack of understanding economics and basic business principals.

        Nothing Nutting does will change the minds of those who view the world in the way that they do.

    • I think the funny part about this is when Boras was negotiating that $8M bonus, I’d bet one of his tactics was “You’re going to pay him under $550K for 3 years, I want more now.” And now he’s saying “He deserves more now!” and every year for the next 4 years he’ll say “He deserves more now!” He’s using the current circumstances to make his point. Same as NH is doing.

      And some say it’s just a few thousand dollars. And that’s true. But BOTH sides are quibbling over that.

      Regardless I believe that Cole went to the media to stir up controversy so when he starts arbitration he can say “they’ve never acted in good faith” and come out smelling like roses in the public. Maybe he’ll be right, but I still don’t like carrying dirty laundry out for the media to report it.

  • add his signing bonus in and than do the math, it will look a lot better for cole.

  • I wonder if this is Boras posturing for changes in the CBA? He seems to wield a lot of influence in these ongoing talks.

  • My feeling is, there’s zero chance he’s going to sign here long term, so who cares? I’m sure it may lower his morale, but I doubt it will affect his performance. Maybe this was punitive because of Boras moreso than Cole.

    • Exactly. I don’t think it will affect performance either. If his production falls off a cliff because of this it hurts his long term value. He cant afford to play poorly

  • Yes, I remember the Angels did that with Trout. This article is going to be filled with comments “Well the Pirates are within the rules” and so forth. Must not be be business savy. Keep your employees/customers happy. Especially when they are one of your best. Seems penny wise pound foolish to me. Waive goodbye in a few years.

    • AD: If the Pirates ponied up $615K or $5 mil this year, they will not have the services of Gerrit Cole beyond 2019, when he becomes an unrestricted FA. In his first 2.5 years, he has already proven to be worth $20 mil/yr, and over the next 4 years I expect he will advance his relative worth to beyond $35 mil/yr.

      The Pirates cannot breathe in that atmosphere; Boras is his agent; and Cole will be finishing up his age 29 season in 2019 – no possibility of an extension. But, I agree with you that they did not need to play the BS game that Boras/Cole initiated. From the very beginning I probably would have rewarded his 2015 season with a lot more than the $614K the Mets paid Harvey in his 3rd year of the minimum.

      • Your talking 5 million. Tim, the Angels and myself are saying 500k more.

        I hear what your saying on 2019. But there is a boatload of baseball in the interim. I want Gerrit Cole (and others for that matter) to be happy. Not feeling slighted over several thousand dollars. That’s how bad blood starts.

        • Not sure. Is happy Cole a better pitcher than chip on his shoulder Cole?

          • Absolutely he is. Even if were are talking just in the lines.

            Its not just Cole. How many other guys on that 40 man are feasible for a contract extension? And they are gonna watch and go to dinner with Cole or a round of golf, hearing him bitch about a few thousand dollars?

            Bad business in my opinion.

            • Except he himself said he doesn’t want this to be a divisive issue because the Pirates have a good clubhouse chemistry/

            • Cole is always bitching. Heck of a pitcher, but definitely bratty when he feels slighted. Remember when he complained about being sent down? Then he comes out earlier this week regarding Glasnow being sent down, saying how it was the right decision when he was sent down so he could work on some things.

              • All things being equal, what if you were in his shoes?

                • AD: I used the $5 mil as an outrageously high number to emphasize that the possibility of an extension for GC is absolute ZERO regardless of what we pay him between now and the end of the 2019 season. Definitely a QO if he is still with the Pirates to finish 2019. He will do well because he is driven to excel – you watch him out on the mound and he lives every pitch. A real bulldog!

                • I’d be enjoying my 8 million dollar pair of Jordan’s. Since your spending Nuttings money, you’re saying you’ll just give him the extra 60k or whatever the supposed difference was? What if you were in Nuttings shoes? You’d just give it up? And set that precedence for every other brat that doesn’t get his way? The Pirates did what they’ve done for every player before Cole. Actually, they gave him more. Why should Cole be treated differently? Because he’ll cry if he doesn’t get his way?

                  • Because you should be trying to entice people to go long term with the Pirates, not just Cole either.

                    Pissing and moaning about trivial dollars is only ammunition for an agent to sway his client elsewhere. And I don’t look at it as a precedent with Cole. He and McCutchen are absolutely exceptions to the rule.

                    • They didn’t piss and moan. They have a plan for their business and they stuck to it. You can look at this as a fan today and piss and moan if you’d like. I’ll look at it as a fan and a guy that understands the business side of things and hope that this move will lead to better results this year and years down the road.

            • In YOUR opinion ? And you are the CEO of which corporation ?

    • They could keep Cole happy by giving him, say, $1M which would still be a bargain. But what happens next year or the year after when Glasnow or Taillon want the same kind of treatment? And then what about if Kuhl or Brault are putting up similar numbers in a couple of years? Keeping employee_s_ happy sometimes means being consistent from one employee to another.

      • If Taillon, Glasnow, Brault, Kuhl, Steve Blass, leefoo and NMR can all win 19 games for the Pirates over the next few years, ill find a way to pay them 1 million each. Maybe replace the Pirate Charities with Atrias sponsored by DK.

      • I’m not sure about the first year of arbitration, but I believe years two and three your raises are based upon the previous year salary. Is there a chance the Bucs went low with Cole to maintain lower arb salaries? In other words, could paying him more now, guarantee higher arb salaries regardless of performance?

      • A better question is “what happens when he hits arb and is already making 1-3 million because we wanted PGH to treat him differently than all other pre arb players.”

    • Tell me about all those wonderful LAAs seasons again ?

  • It seems like the Pirates are trying to play hardball by restricting earnings early to try to tempt players into an extension.

    Cutch, Marte, and Tabata all signed very team favorable deals…two of the three panned out for the Bucs…one really didn’t cost all that much in the grand scheme of things. This approach failed with Polanco last season and it may be time for the org to rethink how it approaches the young talent…

    With someone like Cole, the best approach probably isn’t a middling raise…but offering a fair deal that buys out a FA year or two and mitigates the cost of the total by spreading it out over 5-6 years.

    Seriously…the Pirates would be better off accepting they have really good players and attempting to treat them as if those folks weren’t ignorant of what the market might provide.

    • The market value for a 0-6 player is pre assigned by the CBA. The two points of Tim’s article: A) they ARE paying market value. B) The market isn’t fair. Did you read above or just come to unload after reading a tweet or just the article title?

    • I am sure the Pirates would love that option. But Boros is never going to let you buy out any of his arbitration years. He just wants to maximize everything from both ends. Cole will never be signed here unless the Pirates grossly over pay. It is what it is so just enjoy him while he is here

      • Yes, and this is what makes Cole’s complaint sound like whining. He has a way to increase his salary dramatically and all it takes is agreeing to another year or two of control. (And I love Cole, but I hate when players (or their agents) seek to reap the benefits of the CBA without assuming the “sacrifices” of the CBA.)

        • “Whining” is right on. He didn’t need to state his displeasure through the media, that’s for sure. Makes him sound selfish and immature. Just take the mound when it’s your turn and go about your business. You’ll get paid when it’s time.

      • Yep. I would approach the situation this way: Is there any amount the Pirates could pay Cole that would eliminate the possibility of him leaving at the end of his contract? And since the answer is no, then there is no reason to pay him more, other than what they are doing now.

        • Again, there are players they feasibly could extend though. Why show them your willing to quibble over a few thousand dollars? Think big picture, not just Cole.

        • The Pirates aren’t going to get anything from Cole or Boros when his contract is up. Why worry about satisfying him now. He will still pitch as good as he can to get that big pay check. I’m not a company man, but do believe the Bucco’s are being fair to Cole. Can’t he live off of 500k plus 8+ million? What about the minor leaguer’s that don’t get a bonus and even if their good enough to make the big team, it will take a lot of years making less than minimum wage.

    • Let the chorus of the “pirates are cheap” begin.

      On one hand Cole signed for $8M, a tidy sum in almost anyone’s world.

      Strictly looking at his ’16 salary, he is underpaid, just like Trout was. The Pirates posturing, even threatening to cut his salary, was a low blow. Any hopes of an extension, as slim as any might have been, are now gone.

      As noted by piraterican, this is the system.

      • I do not think this warrants a chorus, as you mention above, but a little goodwill could go a long way in developing positive relationships with Cole and others. In this case, Cole is one of the main faces of the franchise.

        • come on, goodwill is a place to go and buy cheap clothes. What happens when Ray Serage takes a pitcher from the garbage cans and makes him a lot of money. Do they show good will? The name of the game is MONEY. McCutchen is a different breed, he can be comfortable being in the top five players in baseball and get paid link out of the top 100. Even that’s going to stop in his next contract, with the union getting involved if he goes for a big discount. These players have to report to their union and get pretty close to the money their worth.

      • This is the system right now but that doesn’t mean it is perfect, or even good. Of course $8M is a lot of money. Do you have any idea how much the owners make by artificially restricting player salaries in ways like this? Hint, its a lot more than $8M. I never understand the complaint that players should just be happy because they make a lot compared to the average person. Major league sports generate billions and billions of dollars per year. Would you rather have that all go straight to the owners or the players who are the majority reason why it is all happening?

    • ZERO chance that Cole signs a long-term contract here.

      • But there never really was a chance that he’d sign long term, so I don’t feel the Pirates have to make Cole an exception and pay him more. Would he and Boras been satisfied if they paid him 600k. No.

    • You’re dreaming if you think Boras would let Cole sign away a FA year, let alone two, for a few extra million on the front end.

      The reason the Angels gave Trout a $1mm salary is because they were letting him know they wanted to sign him to a long-term mega deal, which they did. The Pirates aren’t going to break the budget for Cole.

      • Yup. Every reason to keep treating nickels like manhole covers. Because Rene Serage and Ray Gayo, blah blah whatever. Smartest guys in the room. Screw them Guggenheim dumbasses.

        • I wonder if you were a Dodgers fan if you’d be crying about the profits their ownership group is making, which is significantly more than the Pirates ownership group is making, too?

          Is it so hard to cheer on your favorite team to victory and not be concerned about other people’s money?

          • If I were a Dodgers fan, I’d be reading an article on the 1 million dollar contract Cole just signed, and how they were looking forward to long term contract extension. Then I would argue with Luke and NMR on which Cuban defector was our best.

            • Yeah right, you’d be bitching about nickels and manhole covers costing your team the services of Greinke.

              • No I wouldnt. Not when my team just purchased a bunch of South American talent and half the All Stars in the Super Series.

                Good chance the Dodgers are putting away cash for the monster 2018 crop of FAs.

                • More money just means more options. It never, ever, guarantees any result, especially in sports.

                  But hey the new American pastime is bitching about other people’s money. Be it too little, or too great. Enjoy wallowing in it Arthur.

        • It’s why you keep the pipeline full with Glasnows, Meadowses, etc. Because the system works against small market teams, small market teams have to be smart rather than rich. The only way the Pirates can survive in Pittsburgh is by using the system to control costs. So unless you are okay rooting for the San Antonio Pirates, you should accept and appreciate the years of Gerrit Cole that we are going to see, and look to the future for other exciting players. Because that’s how it is going to be

          • But as you well know, fairly difficult to keep the pipeline full.

            And no way in hell could San Antonio support a ball club, but the general point is noted.

            • Yeah, I was looking for a city and googled “next MLB franchise”, and picked one.

              Yes, keeping the pipeline full is hard, and it will take some savvy people. And even then it might not work. Pirates Prospects is the result of our microscopic focus on that process!

              I’m not sure what your beef is, other than you want the Pirates to spend more money. But spending more money doesn’t necessarily get you a better team. The Pirates have won more games over the past three years than any team other than the Cardinals. They ran into Arrieta last year. Which pitcher gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, including two home runs (one a monster blast)? It would have been a hell of a lot better for that game to have gone to the 7th tied 0-0 and bring on the bullpens, huh?

              We used to root for a team that was constantly overpaying for free agents in a futile quest for a single season of near-competitiveness. I have to tell you, I like this way a whole lot better.

          • I like the Dodgers, Yankee and Red Socks. They pay a nice chunk of the Pirates payroll every year.

      • I disagree. Boras is going to do what’s in the best interest of his client. As much as everyone thinks Cole is as good as gone, if he were offered a fair extension, he may resign. Of course, that might mean $1M for this season, $25-30M for his arbitration years, and $50-55M for two FA years.

        So, yeah…if the Pirates wanted to lock him up for 6 years and $76-86M, I think Boras/Cole would listen. This would be a change in the way the team approaches its young talent , and definitely comes with risk, but there’s also a heck of a lot of potential reward here for being able to lock up one of the top arms in the game for Liriano-like money.

        • I enjoy your enthusiasm but if the Pirates offered that then Boros would use that as a starting point and add about 50 million to the contract. Its how he operates. If he is your agent you do not sign extensions and this includes all of his clients not just Cole.

          • Jered Weaver, Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Pena, and Ryan Madson are all Boras clients that have signed extensions that gave up FA years.

            As the Pirates have control of Cole for the next four years…there isn’t a lot of room to negotiate. Guaranteeing him arbitration-like salaries and offering to pay for two years of an elite FA contract is pretty much a take-it-or-leave it.

        • Based on previous experience, when a #1 draft choice chooses Boras as their agent, they are doing so to maximize their pay. I don’t mind Cole taking this approach. It’s his career and he can do with it what he will. But to think he will compromise his future earnings for security in his prime earning years, seems out of sync with hiring a hard-nosed agent like Boras.

          Far more likely Cole plays out his 6+ years in Pitt (or wherever Pirates trade him), then hit the FA market to sign a top contract with an opt out clause in case he can get even more money, or he’s not happy with his new organization.

          • I am in 90% agreement that’s the most likely outcome. There are reasons it may not be…one is that Cole would be 31 when he hit FA if the Pirates were to buy out two of his post-arbitration years. As Price (30) and Greinke (32) showed this fall…post-30 pitchers can pull $200M+ contracts. So, Cole would have the potential for the best of both worlds…a hedge against pre-FA injury and be still set up for a monster contract.

            As I’d said before, my point isn’t that he should be offered options on his FA years or the amount he’d be paid would be team-friendly…instead, the Pirates would pay market-rate…they’d just be able to spread those costs evenly over his non-FA years to lessen the impact.

            As it is, the Pirates have all the leverage they can take that stance of: “Do you want to hope you stay healthy and maybe make $30M over the next four seasons…or be guaranteed $85M over six even if your elbow blows out tomorrow…or in your last start before free agency?”

            But, all-in-all, I think you’re right…I doubt Cole will finish pre-FA years with the Bucs.

            However, what I’m suggesting is more of an attitude change the Pirates should adopt. Yeah, it was great to get Cutch and Marte so cheap…but value can also be found in paying market rates when arbitration holds down the costs of star players’ salaries.

            • You make some very good points, especially regarding Pirates having to change the way they do business. No evidence to suggest they will though.

              Very well stated and reasoned response Blaine.

  • I don’t see a problem here at all, this is the system, in other words these are the rules. He has and will make his money all in due time.