The Pirates began play Tuesday night with a 9 1/2 game deficit in the National League Central standings and a .687 team OPS that ranks 20th in the major leagues. They could use a big bat and have a perfect internal fit in top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco. But he’s not a consideration yet because the Bucs don’t want to risk him gaining an extra year of salary arbitration via Super Two status.
And the 6-foot-4 youngster from the Dominican Republic is not willing to put a cap on his potential future earnings by agreeing to a team-friendly, pre-debut contract. Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports has the full story …
The Pirates recently offered the 22-year-old Polanco a seven-year deal with three club options that would guarantee him a little bit less than $25 million, a source with knowledge of the team’s plans told Yahoo Sports. Polanco rejected the deal and remains at Triple-A Indianapolis, a casualty of Major League Baseball’s service-time rules that continue to give teams an incentive to bury some of the best prospects in the minor leagues until June.
Pittsburgh’s tack with Polanco mirrors a trend of offering the best up-and-coming players long-term major league contracts before their debuts. While no player has signed such a deal, the Houston Astros proposed a multiyear deal for outfielder George Springer during spring training. When he turned it down, the Astros kept him in the minor leagues for the first 2½ weeks of the season, delaying his free agency by a year.
Polanco, 22, is batting .397/.449/.621 with four homers and 26 RBI in 29 games this year at Triple-A Indianapolis. Some type of change needs to be made to this system in the next collective bargaining agreement. Passan suggests tying Super Two status to performance rather than strictly service time.
The Cardinals seem to be pulling a Polanco with their own top outfield prospect, Oscar Taveras.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.