After agreeing to terms with Drew Hutchison and Jared Hughes last night on a one-year deal, the Pittsburgh Pirates came into Friday morning with four unsigned arbitration-eligible players and a 1 PM EST deadline to exchange figures. According to DK Pittsburgh Sports, the Pirates avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer when they agreed on a one-year deal for $4.325 M. Mercer was projected to receive $4 M.

Mercer is in his second year of arbitration and received a substantial raise over last season when the two teams agreed to a deal for $2.075 M. He hit .256/.328/.374 in 149 games in 2016, setting career highs in plate appearances, runs, hits and walks. He finished with a 1.3 fWAR in 2016, showing improvements over 2015 on the offensive side, but the defense dropped off from previous levels. Baseball-Reference had him at an 0.9 WAR, showing the same increase on the offensive side and slip on defense.

Gerrit Cole, Tony Watson and Juan Nicasio remain unsigned. Watson is projected to make $5.9 M, while Nicasio projects at $4.6 M and Cole is $4.2 M. We will update this article with any new agreements. I’ll also point out that while 1 PM EST is the deadline, you may not hear one or more of the actual announcements until after that time, so don’t jump to any conclusions before we hear a definitive word.

UPDATE 1:30 PM: According to DK Pittsburgh Sports, Juan Nicasio and the Pirates agreed on a one-year deal for $3.625 M, which is nearly $1 M less than the projected salary. He made $3 M in 2016 when he had a 4.50 ERA and 3.78 FIP over 118 innings, with 138 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP. His results were better in relief than as a starter, where he posted a 5.05 ERA in 12 outings.

Gerrit Cole has also agreed to a $3.75 M deal, which is $450,000 below the projected total. Cole made $541,000 in 2016 when he had a 3.88 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 116 innings over 21 starts. He had 98 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP, while making three trips to the disabled list. Cole was coming off a 2015 season in which he finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, posting a 2.60 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, with 202 strikeouts in 208 innings.

UPDATE 3:05 PM: The Pirates made all five announcements official and Tony Watson was not signed, so he will likely head to arbitration sometime next month.

UPDATE 8:00 PM: According to Jon Heyman, the Pirates submitted a figure of $5.6 M for Tony Watson, while he came back with a $6 M asking price. Neither the club nor Watson were far off the $5.9 M projection. An arbitration hearing will be set at a later date.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. With all this in ink, the Bucs will end up with some modest arbitration savings if you cosnider the MLBTR projections accurate. Not including Watson, they’re a bit north of $1.5 million below their projected total with the six arbitration-eligible players that have signed.

    Given the carears of those players thus far, it’s hard not to imagine each producing surplus value on their respective contracts this year if healthy. The exception to that of course is Hutchison. I’m still a skeptic with him despite liking him years ago as a prospect. But if he turns in a solid fifth starter year with 1.0-1.5 WAR, than he’s more than worth the marginal 2017 dollars and is likely retained for 2018.

  2. A roughly 7% difference in between what Pirates offered Watson and what he said he would take doesn’t seem like much comparatively speaking. Makes me wonder why they couldn’t come to terms at $5.8mm?

    Seems like there are forces at work here that may be causing this relationship to be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

  3. Despite the advanced Defensive statistics, I didn’t see a regression in Jordy’s defense in 16′. While he’ll never have the range or flashiness of an Andrelton Simmons, IMO he’s been an above average defender since becoming a starter & can’t recall 5 non-error plays where I thought he should’ve made the play.

  4. I was a little surprised to see Cole settle even with the off year. Also did Jordy Mercer hit a walk off HR in the rain that I don’t remember? Whenever I see the picture I hear the music from The Natural in my head.

  5. I imagine Watson wants to get paid like a Closer, while Pirates want to pay him like a set up man.

    I’ll be surprised if he starts season wearing a Pirates uniform.

    • Think about the return vs. the other options available instead of vs. O fWAR – then it doesn’t seem like so much

      • As many others pointed out to me a week or so ago with regard to Harrison – Arb$ /= FA$.
        For three years I have argued if this is all the offense you are getting from your SS, why not go with a great glove guy who helps your pitching staff.

    • This is what it cost to return him, and he’s a perfectly useful shortstop. Would you have preferred we let him go?

    • I think it’s low if one win equals 6-7m, maybe more. His wars was 1.3.
      Help me Tim, anyone, what is the value of Mercer’s war?

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