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 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: