Pirates demote Jose Tabata and his $15 million contract to Triple-A

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Less than a year ago the Pirates and Jose Tabata agreed to a long-term contract extension that guarantees him $15 million, could reach as high as $37 million, and keeps him under team control through 2019.

Today the Pirates optioned Tabata to Triple-A after he hit just .230 with three homers and a .636 OPS in 72 games.

Tabata’s production last season was also disappointing, as he failed to build on a strong rookie campaign and also missed significant time with a broken hand, but he’s been downright awful this year offensively, defensively, and on the bases.

Still, to go from $15 million contract extension to Triple-A banishment in 11 months is pretty remarkable and it’s interesting that the Pirates chose not to call up top prospect Starling Marte as his replacement. Instead they’ll keep Marte at Triple-A and turn to Gorkys Hernandez, a light-hitting speedster who briefly saw some action in Pittsburgh back in May. That suggests they view the Tabata demotion as temporary–which is sort of a given thanks to the contract–and may also feel that Marte isn’t quite ready for the big leagues at age 23.

Also worth noting: At the time of the signing Tabata’s contract extension struck me as “an odd move for the Pirates given that Tabata is under their control through 2016 already and hasn’t exactly established himself as a long-term building block yet.” Sometimes things are exactly as they appear.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.