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  1. Tabata is probably going to compare to Melky career wisem, a five tool player in the sense that he is at least average in all five categories. He may very well end up solidly above average in things like contact and defense, and this deal is basically betting that he is a league average 4th OF so I like it.

    Comment by Mr wOBAto — August 23, 2011 @ 9:21 am

  2. Nothing in this story, or the linked story, indicated why there are doubts as to Tabata’s age. What’s the story? Where are these questions coming from?

    Comment by Eddie — August 23, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  3. the options aren’t player options, they’re club options. awfully speculative article

    Comment by Mingy — August 23, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  4. Yeah this “analysis” makes about no sense. There is no evidence of any age issue, yet the entire story is based on speculation. The author says he’s already a 2 WAR player, yet somehow that isn’t worth $4 million a year in 3 years? Even if he’s 25, he’ll hit his peak production in a few years and cost less than half of his value. All of the pricey options are team controlled so there is almost zero risk. For Tabata to perform to his $15 million contract, he’ll need to put up 3 WAR in 5 years, how can that not be a great deal for the Bucs?

    Comment by PiratesHurdles — August 23, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  5. What was the deal/contract terms?
    if he’s not going to make $5M until 2017, it’s a steal.

    Comment by Norm — August 23, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  6. Great. Yet more unfounded speculation on Tabata’s age.

    Can anyone name a Venezuelan player that lied about his age? I can’t think of a single one. Guys like Tejada, Beltre, Furcal, Guzman, Ortiz, Soriano and Colon are all Dominican. So is Esmailyn Gonzalez. El Duque is Cuban. From my understanding, Venezuela has much stricter record keeping than the Dominican or Cuba, so it’s much harder to commit this type of age fraud.

    There isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that Tabata is anything other than his stated age, yet the rumor persists because he “looks older”. It’s ridiculous. The Hardball Times article you linked also says there are “questions” without actually citing any proof. All they have is a mealy mouthed quote from Neil Huntington that contradicts itself. He said:

    “All of the documentation he has used to obtain his visa from the U.S. government and his passport from the Venezuelan government indicates his reported age is accurate. Apart from unfounded speculation, there is nothing to indicate his age any different than reported. My point is that while we have reason to doubt his reported age, it is a non-issue to us.”

    The only part that would give pause is the last sentence where he says “we have reason to doubt” Tabata’s age, but that it also is a “non-issue”. How on earth are these two ideas compatible? If Tabata’s a few years older, it’s a very big issue for the Pirates. I think, given the overall tone of the rest of his comments, the “we have reason to doubt” comment was Huntington’s way of acknowledging that other people doubt Tabata’s age, but the Pirates don’t. So we’re back at square one, namely that people are engaging in unfounded speculation and have no proof that Tabata is older than he says he is.

    Meanwhile, the Yankees investigated his age and were satisfied enough to sign him as a 16 year old prospect. The Pirates investigated his age and were satisfied enough to trade for him and then sign him to a six year extension. The US government is satisfied that his age is accurate and granted him a work Visa.

    Comment by gorillagogo — August 23, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  7. I wouldn’t say there is evidence, but there was talk about it, and from the front office.

    There are other stories, just google it.

    Comment by Santos — August 23, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  8. one minor point about his age–this is his age 22 (or 24 or 30 or whatever) season, because his bday is in august, correct?

    Comment by joshcohen — August 23, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  9. Here’s some comments by Neal Huntington on the age issue:

    Here are the year-by-year terms of the deal:

    Helluva a deal for the Pirates imo

    Comment by John — August 23, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  10. Sorry, didn’t see Gorillagogo’s comment on the age thing until after I posted.

    Comment by John — August 23, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  11. This is the worst article I’ve seen on fangraphs in over one month.

    Please don’t ruin the quality of your website with this filth.

    Comment by Pierre — August 23, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  12. Allow me to briefly defend myself here. I agree with most of you that the issue of Tabata’s age is somewhat unfair. At the same time, the issue always seems to pop up with Tabata and I felt it needed to be mentioned within the article. For what it’s worth, some very trusted analysts have some questions about whether Tabata is as old as he says he is. I don’t mean to imply that Tabata is a liar, just that I feel it is a legitimate issue.

    Either way, I acknowledged that it’s a good deal for the Pirates. It just looks better if Tabata is actually 23.

    I know it’s easy to get stuck on one issue that pisses you off (in this case, the questions about Tabata’s age), but I ask that you read the entire piece and understand that I’m just trying to present the entire argument here. I felt ignoring the issue of his age would have been a mistake; even if there’s nothing to be concerned about.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — August 23, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  13. Good thing Jason Heyward isn’t Latin, nobody would believe the guy is 22 if he were from Venezuela or, god forbid, the DR.

    Comment by maguro — August 23, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  14. next up: the pittsburgh pirates verify obama’s long-form birth certificate

    Comment by pastadiving jeter — August 23, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  15. @Chris

    I think a big problem with your analysis is that the options are team, not player.

    That significantly changes the amount of risk the Pirates have taken on here, which is little to none.

    Your article seems pessimistic on how good a deal this is for the Pirates when it’s actually a pretty fantastic one. I think that’s why people are jumping down your throat.

    There are persistent rumors about Tabata’s age and to not consider them at all would be irresponsible on the Pirates end. The problem is I think you’ve given them too much consideration here.

    Comment by Spencer — August 23, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  16. I don’t really follow your logic then. If you agree that the age speculation is unfair, why did you present it in such a way that the reader thinks it’s a legitimate issue? You spend two full paragraphs discussing the issue and then follow that up with comments like “the Pirates took a risk committing to a player with some question marks” and “it’s more than likely Tabata has already reached his ceiling”. As a reader, that says to me “this age business is an important factor” not “this criticism is unfair”.

    Comment by gorillagogo — August 23, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  17. This is an excellent deal for the Bucs they will pay him 1.5 million more between now and 2016 than the Royals will be paying frenchy over the next two, then they have three club options wher they can choose to pay him in 2017-19 his 29-32 seasons what a 37 year old Ryan howard will make in 2017 alone.

    Comment by Mr wOBAto — August 23, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  18. It would be ridiculous not to mention the age issue. If the Pirates GM has reason to doubt his age, so should any article written about him.

    Comment by bonestock94 — August 23, 2011 @ 10:44 am


    Comment by Mingy — August 23, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  20. Good points here. Let me try and further explain my logic.


    I’m trying to find the right words to describe my view here, so I hope this makes sense. I think it is unfair that the age issue is discussed when there is really no evidence suggesting Tabata is liar. However, I feel that the issue is important enough that I had to discuss it in the article, even though it may be unfounded. I definitely see how that can be a confusing viewpoint, but I hope you kind of get what I’m trying to say here.

    I also agree that I was probably too pessimistic about the situation as well. I should have expressed more concerns about Tabata’s actual performance rather than focus on his age. While his age would have an effect on how he develops as a player, it’s my own opinion that he’s already reached his ceiling as a player. I just don’t see where the power is going to come from at this point (whether he’s 23 or 25 or whatever). I should have probably expressed that more clearly. I do, however, appreciate that you took the time to write your concerns about the piece in a way that was constructive. I all for having discussions and debates with you guys on here if things can be handled like this. It helps me and pushes me to improve my writing and my analysis.

    @Mr wOBAto

    I agree 100%. I probably didn’t focus on this enough. It’s a really good deal for the Bucs, even if Tabata “is what he is.”

    Comment by Chris Cwik — August 23, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  21. The age issue is a well-founded one; those of us who followed him back during his prospect days remember well that rumors were flying around about him heavily even in those days. Smoke may not mean a fire, but he was really the only one of his particular crop of Latin prospects (along with Fernando Martinez and co.) that had that cloud over him routinely.

    Nonetheless, I do agree with others that the overall analysis of this contract seems confusing (even leaving aside the player vs. team option issue). If Tabata is 25 or 26, how much of an effect should that really have on his future, aside from limiting his upside? His game is built around a patient plate approach, average defense, and above average base running; that recipe doesn’t seem like one that should fail him any day soon. I don’t see any reason to believe he can’t be a 2 WAR player annually, and improvement doesn’t seem out of the question. To my eyes, this looks like the Pirates locking up a solid regular at a fairly bargain price long term; he may not win them any championships by himself, but he’s the kind of steady regular that can help solidify a lineup. Looks fairly win-win to me.

    Comment by Sean O'Neill — August 23, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  22. I’d like to reiterate my original question to those who think the age question is legitimate. Can anyone name a Venezuelan player that lied about his age? I can’t think of any, although I suppose there might be one or more out there. Almost all of the players I can think of are from the Dominican, with a few from Cuba. Anyone?

    Comment by gorillagogo — August 23, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  23. This article mentions no names but states:

    “Major League Baseball, which is expanding the oversight of teenage prospects in Venezuela to match the system in the Dominican Republic, announced that seven players there had been declared ineligible to sign with major league organizations for a year because they had lied about their ages.”

    Comment by IvanGrushenko — August 23, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  24. And here are their names:

    Ruben Alvarado, Fabian Marqua, Osmir Medina, Serio Nieves, Omar Viloria and Jose Ramon Wefer were found to have lied about their ages and in some cases their identities. Erickson Salaya, a seventh Venezuelan player who was found to have lied about his age and identity, was placed on the disqualified list for one year after he agreed to a contract, though MLB did not specify the team.

    Comment by IvanGrushenko — August 23, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  25. The only details I know from this article are that it’s a six-year deal, and that he won’t make 5MM until at least 2017. From MLB Trade Rumors:

    “The guaranteed portion of the deal runs through 2016 and includes contract restructuring for 2011. Tabata will receive a $1MM signing bonus, and his 2011 salary increases to $500K. He will then earn $750K in 2012, $1MM in 2013, $3MM in 2014, $4MM in 2015, and $4.5MM in 2016. The three options total $22.5MM – $6.5MM in 2017, $7.5MM in 2018, and $8.5MM in 2019. The Pirates will have the opportunity to buy out Tabata for $250K in any of the three option years, which brings the outfielder’s guarantee to $15MM. If the Pirates exercise all three options, the contract could be worth up to $37.25MM.”

    Comment by astrostl — August 23, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  26. Why is it more than likely that a former top prospect who is playing in his “Age 22 Season” and has fewer than 800 career plate appearances has reached his ceiling? Tabata’s plate patience has improved this year and his batting average climbing back up after coming off the DL. I would say it is far more likely that Tabata becomes a regular .300 hitter during the lifespan of this deal and puts up an OBP near .400 (making him an elite leadoff hitter, power or no power) than it is for him to have “reached his ceiling.”

    Comment by Mark — August 23, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  27. I never said poor Venezuelan kids wouldn’t try to cheat, just that they have stricter record keeping so it’s more difficult for them to get away with it. Case in point, these players were never signed because they were caught as teenagers trying to cheat. Compare that to the dozens of Dominican guys who had lengthy careers before admitting they lied about their age.

    Comment by gorillagogo — August 23, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  28. You do realise that when Matt Holliday was Jose Tabata’s Age he was hitting 276/.375/.391 in AA? that the next year he hit .253/.313/.395 in AA saying a player has hit his ceiling in his age 22 season seems a bit early to me.

    Comment by Mr wOBAto — August 23, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  29. It’s called Google. Probably just as fast as typing your comment.

    Comment by Larry R. — August 23, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  30. There is 1 pre-arbitration year and 3 arbitration years in this deal (at least the guaranteed part). What are the precedents for him in arbitration? How much more would he make in arbitration, if he produces like he has for the entire period? That seems like a big part of it.

    The $5 million per win is for FREE AGENTS. He is not a free agent. He is team controlled.

    Comment by Sitting Curveball — August 23, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  31. Chris:

    Have you ever seen him play? Anyone that has – on a consistent basis – would argue with you regarding your opinion that he doesn’t have any power, nor projects to have more in the future. Any guy that hits the ball as hard as he does to the opposite field, including I believe 3 of his 4 HRs, still has room to add more power in terms of SLG or ISO. He may not hit 20-25, but I would be willing to wager that he hits between 15-20 at his peak years.

    From a 23-yr old, with above average defense, a great approach at the plate, above average speed…..that 15-20 HR power would make him a pretty elite leadoff hitter. Saying he has reached his ceiling is against the overwhelming evidence of a player that fits his profile and age.

    Comment by CabreraDeath — August 23, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  32. Thanks astrostl. You’d think that an article about a player signing a contract would include, you know, the actual terms of the contract. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I usually avoid this author’s work.

    Comment by Scott — August 23, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  33. The Pirates’ signing of Tabata seems like a low-risk, medium-reward type of move. I question his ability to develop power. His body has filled out, he has a super-high GB rate and he plays half his games in a park that’s very tough on right-handed batters. Now, a left-fielder without power can still be a valuable player in a lineup that includes power hitters at the other corner spots. The Pirates, unfortunately, do not have that luxury.

    Comment by steve — August 23, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  34. It’s being awfully kind to Melky to say that he has any tools at all.

    Comment by Luke M — August 23, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  35. Surely “fill in the blanks with Google Search” is not a good philosophy of writing.

    Comment by Aaron W. — August 23, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  36. There was an article on this the 2010 THT annual. The Venezuelan government, while more rigorous than Latin America, is also not BFF’s with the US. So, if the US requests something and Venezuela says “F-Off”, then “F-Off” is the answer the US is left with. The US can’t go down there and investiagte the situation itself, like it does with Latin America.

    In other words, Venezuelan players could lie about their age and the US would not be able to investigate it.

    One could say that Venezuelan and Latin American situations are different and that Venezuelan players should be given the benefit of the doubt due to the different economic and political structures of the country. That would be fair.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  37. If he simply continues to play around league average, this is a great deal.

    Has a team ever been in such a position to have such surplus value from a player simply performing at league average?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  38. I would say that Pedro Alvarez qualifies as a ‘power hitter’ at the corner position, unless you feel that it isn’t insanely premature to label him a bust at age 24 and coming off a pretty successful age-23 rookie season in the majors.

    Comment by CabreraDeath — August 23, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  39. 6y/15M (2011-2016)

    If he performs at league average, PIT gets 35M in surplus value.

    If they pick up all 3 years of options (and he performs at league average), PIT gets $34M in surplus value.

    Again, I was just struck by how much surplus value they can get just by having him be league average. They don;t need him to turn into an All-Star, they don;t need him to get much better, or anything of the sort. Granted [1] league average and [2] remaining healthy are more difficult than they sound … but often in contracts like these, a player needs to maintain craeer best rates or get a lot better, etc in order to make the contract a good deal for the team. Tabata needs to be healthy and perform at league average.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  40. Except for the fact that for every fly ball, he hits 2 1/2 ground balls. There is ZERO chance he’ll ever reach your pie in the sky HR projection if that continues. And as for his “great approach at the plate”, his stats say otherwise. He has never had a BB% over 10% until this year. This year screams fluke to me. Also he’s already had a couple of injuries so he might not age as well as you might think.

    Finally, all you Pirate homers conveniently ignored Sitting Curveball’s post to concentrate on a strawman argument. The Pirates are not getting a bargain if Tabata only produces 2 WAR. The pre-arb and arbitration years are always paid at a huge discount something along the lines of 80% pre-arb and 70% in the first year of arbitration.

    Comment by Oasis — August 23, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  41. So you don’t believe teams get a huge discount on their players before they reach free agency?

    Comment by Oasis — August 23, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  42. Maybe but Melky has a .303/.335/.472 with 16HR and 16SB so if he ends the season as a 20/20 CF with a .300 average it is a little unkind to say he has no tools.

    Comment by Mr wOBAto — August 23, 2011 @ 2:45 pm


    Comment by BB — August 23, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  44. Brainfart.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  45. We arn’t “ignoring” it at all, its still a bargain with those expected discounts. Tabata is already near a 3 WAR player over 162 games (2.1 in 102 last year, 1.6 in 78 this year), that’s $15 million value or at 70% $10.5 million, while we pay him $4 million.

    Comment by PiratesHurdles — August 23, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  46. You can’t treat buying out arbitration years the same as a FA WAR value market. It’s not like he was going to be pulling in 8 mil/year in arbitration if he posts 2 WAR seasons.

    These are all league minimum and arb years, no? (maybe 1 FA year?)

    Comment by joe — August 23, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  47. The next Barry Bonds

    Comment by adohaj — August 24, 2011 @ 12:41 am

  48. Walk rates stabilize after 200 PA’s, I believe.

    Watch his games – his approach is for real, ever since they put him in the leadoff spot, as opposed to the #2 spot.

    I bet you were one of the same guys who said that McCutchen wasn’t going to produce power, either.

    Are you a Brewers fan? Are you Jack Moore?

    Comment by CabreraDeath — August 24, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

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