When a player leaves the team which brought him up via free agency, he is often considered “disloyal” and fans of his original team often turn on him. Rarely, however, does anyone consider whether or not the team treated him well or showed any gratitude for that which he accomplished.
If they considered that in Gerrit Cole‘s case, the Pirates may come up wanting.
Cole was fantastic for the Pirates last year, going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 208 innings, striking out 202 batters and walking only 44. If it weren’t for some seriously historic seasons from a couple of other guys, that could easily have been a Cy Young kind of performance. It was certainly good enough for him to start the Wild Card game, showing without question that he is the ace of Clint Hurdle’s staff.
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, however, that the Pirates are treating him some rookie who should be happy to be on a big league roster:
On Saturday, Cole grudgingly signed a deal for $541,000 in base salary. That’s the same amount he made last year — $531,000 in base pay play a $10,000 bonus for making the All-Star team.
According to Cole, the team’s initial offer last week was for $538,000 – which was less than his total pay last year. The team refused to go higher than $541,000.
“They even threatened a salary reduction to the league minimum [$507,500] if I did not agree,” Cole said.
The Pirates have the power to do that, of course, because Cole is not yet arbitration eligible and players in such a situation have zero leverage (all players prior to the advent of free agency were in this situation as well, I might add). But having the power to do that and choosing to do that are too different things. That the Pirates would choose to do that speaks of a team that has no interest in signing Cole long term and which is needlessly antagonizing one of its most important players.
Baseball is a business and playing is a job regardless, so maybe matters of “loyalty” shouldn’t be of concern to anyone. But if you do care about loyalty, it should be a two-way street, should it not?