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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.