Pirates, Gregory Polanco are far apart in contract talks

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The Pirates tried to do to Gregory Polanco what the Astros did to Jonathan Singleton: get him to sign a team-friendly long term deal before being called up to the bigs. And, perhaps, as a condition of being called up to the bigs. Polanco didn’t bite, the Pirates called him up anyway and Polanco has thus far prospered in the majors.

All of which means that doing a long-term deal is a lot harder now than it even was a few short weeks ago. Jon Heyman reports:

Pirates outfield wunderkind Gregory Polanco and the team are thought to be at a stalemate in negotiations after offers and counteroffers — including one by the Pirates that could have kept him in Pittsburgh for 10 more years on top of this one, through 2024 – have failed to bridge a significant gap, sources told CBSSports.com.

Heyman has a ton of information about the size and nature of the proposals the Pirates are said to have made. And, to be honest: they seem like bad deals for Polanco to take. They would have him locked up through age 33 in some instances, which is past the time he could reasonably cash-in with a big deal due to some leverage on his part. Indeed, every day he stays productive in the majors increases that leverage. Signing a far-below-$100M deal for more than ten years — however tempting it may be — would represent a significant discount over what he’d be worth if he even fulfills a portion of his promise.

It’s be hard to turn down guaranteed money when you’re still three years from even your first arbitration paycheck, but if Polanco keeps hitting, there are much, much larger sums of money waiting for him in the not-too-distant future.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.