23-year-old Jose Tabata is under control through 2019 after officially signing a long-term extension with the Pirates on Sunday. MLB.com’s Jennifer Langosch has the dollar amounts:
Signing bonus: $1 million
2013: $1 million
2014: $3 million
2015: $4 million
2016: $4.5 million
2017: $6.5 million club option
2018: $7.5 million club option
2019: $8.5 million club option
It’s technically a six-year contract, though since 2011 is included in the six years, it’s really a five-year deal. However, the Pirates will have themselves quite a bargain for the next eight years if Tabata follows a rather typical development curve. Tabata is guaranteed $14.75 million, which includes a $250,000 buyout if the 2017 option isn’t exercised. That 2017 season would have been his first year of free agency.
Even if Tabata turns out to be just an average regular, he certainly would have made more than $14.75 million through the end of hs arbitration years. And given that he just turned 23 earlier this month, he’s a ways away from what should be his prime years.
The Pirates have an ulterior motive here, too; by signing Tabata and hopefully Neil Walker as well in the near future, they’re trying to make themselves more attractive in extension talks with Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen, who will be eligible for arbitration after the 2012 season and for free agency after 2015, will cost considerably more to lock up, but the Pirates seem to be making every effort to get it done. While McCutchen might already be dreaming of Carl Crawford money when he does hit free agency, given how far away it is and how much could happen before then, he should consider taking the sure $50 million-$60 million, even though it will mean giving up a couple of seasons of free agency.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.