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.
Watson filed at 6M, pirates 5.6M
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 14, 2017