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.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?