What is Gregory Polanco Worth?

Gregory Polanco is one of the very best prospects still in the minor leagues. He’s currently hitting .395/.444/.613 as a 22-year-old in Triple-A, and he was a consensus top prospect before he lit up the highest level of minor league pitching. The Pirates have a hole in right field, and Polanco could easily fill it, but he remains in the minor leagues instead.

GM Neal Huntington told Jon Heyman last week that the Pirates will call Polanco up when they deem that he’s ready for the big leagues, and are determined not to rush him too quickly.

“Our evaluation of a player’s readiness mentally, physically, fundamentally and personally to compete and thrive is what drives the decision to call that player up or not,” Huntington said. “My job is to do everything in my power to help our people succeed. It is my hope that most will understand that those within an organization will have a better feel for a player’s readiness than someone in the media who likely has a limited background with the player whom he is voicing an opinion or some scout who works for a different organization and sees the player for five days a week and proclaims the player ‘ready.'”

Huntington added, “I trust our people and when we deem a player is ready, we will look to promote that player.”

One could reasonably argue either side of Polanco’s readiness. On the one hand, ZIPS projected him to be a +3 WAR player before the season even started, and his ridiculous performance in Triple-A would only improve the forecast, but on the other hand, he has less than 150 plate Triple-A plate appearances, and he only racked up 286 at Double-A last year. We’re talking about less than a full season’s worth of playing time above A-ball, and while the talent and performances are obvious, the Pirates haven’t exactly slow-tracked his development. Getting a few hundred more at-bats in the minors probably won’t hurt his development.

Of course, while the Pirates will downplay this aspect of the decision, there’s a financial consideration to his lack of presence in the Major Leagues right now. If the Pirates promoted Gregory Polanco tomorrow, he’d finish the season with approximately 140 days of service, and would likely qualify as a Super-Two arbitration player after the 2016 season, granting him four trips through the arbitration process rather than the standard three. If the Pirates wait another three weeks or so and get his service time below 120 days for this year, they’ll likely avoid that extra arbitration trip and potentially save some real money over the next seven years.

The Pirates were willing to avoid this entire waiting game, however, as they offered Polanco a long-term deal during Spring Training, a deal that would have covered his first seven years of team control and given the Pirates team options for each of his first three years of potential free agency. According to reports from Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman, the guaranteed portion of the deal was worth about $25 million, while the total value of the deal could have risen to $50 or $60 million if all three options were exercised. Polanco passed on the offer, and so he remains in the minors; it is likely that if he had taken the deal, he would already be in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates would have reduced incentives to keep him off the roster.

Rather than rehash the argument over whether or not teams should manipulate service time this way — people will do what they are incentivized to do, and the rules incentivize teams to do this — I’m interested in the valuation that the Pirates put on Polanco’s first seven years. $20ish million seems to be roughly the current standard offer for a player’s pre-arbitration and arb. years if they sign with very low levels of service time: Chris Archer ($20M guaranteed, two team options), Yan Gomes ($23M guaranteed, two team options), and Jose Quintana ($21M guaranteed, two team options) all signed for something in this range at the end of Spring Training, while fellow top prospect George Springer reportedly turned down $23 million from the Astros on a similar kind of offer to the one the Pirates made Polanco. This is basically the template guarantee from teams to low service time players right now.

But is it a match for, or at least close to, what Polanco should expect to earn during his arbitration years? Predicting future salaries is difficult, as you not only have to predict future performance but also how the arbitration market is going to go, and how much inflation we might see in the future. So, instead of looking forward and making guesses, let’s look backwards and see what other prospects in Polanco’s range made during their first seven years of team control.

Using Baseball America’s All-Time Top 100 list, I looked for three prospects ranked essentially in the same spot as Polanco over the five year period from 2003 to 2007. Polanco ranked #10 on their pre-season list this year, so to look for similar level of prospects, I pulled the first seven year earnings (from Baseball-Reference) for the #9, #10, and #11 prospects in those five years, dropping down to #12 in a few cases where a player would have otherwise been double counted. This gives us 15 similarly rated prospects who have finished out their years of team control, and we can look at their earnings to get an idea of what a prospect of this stature has earned recently. Here are those 15 players, and their earnings during their first seven years.

Player Season Rank First 7 Years
Justin Upton 2007 9 $36,721,666
Andrew Miller 2007 10 $10,880,219
Tim Lincecum 2007 11 $81,055,000
Lastings Milledge 2006 9 $2,189,500
Matt Cain 2006 10 $31,744,666
Prince Fielder 2006 11 $57,914,500
Andy Marte 2005 9 $1,601,500
Hanley Ramirez 2005 10 $39,668,000
Dallas McPherson 2005 12 $382,500
Grady Sizemore 2004 9 $23,101,631
Scott Kazmir 2004 12 $30,897,000
Adam Loewen 2004 13 $1,783,000
Gavin Floyd 2003 9 $16,546,000
Francisco Rodriguez 2003 10 $31,069,166
Miguel Cabrera 2003 12 $54,410,623
Average     $27,997,665
Median     $30,897,000

Note that Andrew Miller and Adam Loewen’s totals were slightly inflated due to MLB contracts signed out of the draft, which guaranteed them higher-than-minimum pre-arb payments.

Overall, this is a pretty successful group. Milledge, Marte, McPherson, and Loewen busted, but there are some pretty impressive names on the successful side of the ledger, and some serious money was made by the guys who didn’t bust. Lincecum’s $80 million in earnings is basically unheard of, as he got four trips through arbitration and set records all the way through, but even the other more reasonable outcomes still show the earning potential of a prospect of this stature. The average earnings for the group was $28 million; the median was $31 million.

So, that’s where these $20Mish offers are coming from, right? Take the average earnings of comparable players, then knock a few dollars off because of the fact that the team is guaranteeing the money up front, taking on greater risk than if they went year to year. There are a few issues, though.

For one, we’re comparing 2003 to 2007 dollars to 2014 dollars. MLB is swimming in money, and there has been some serious inflation in MLB over the last decade. That Grady Sizemore earned $23 million does not mean that we should expect Gregory Polanco to earn $23 million; we have to adjust these totals upwards to account for the shifting pay scale. If we inflate the $28 million average/$31 million median at five percent per year over the last seven years, the new average would be $39 million, and the median would be $43 million, and that’s just today’s dollars, not accounting for even future inflation in the arbitration market before Polanco gets there.

Realistically, given Polanco’s pedigree, he should probably be forecasting his team controlled earnings in the range of $40 million, and if he develops into what prospect analysts and forecasting systems think he could be, he’s probably looking at something north of $20 million per year for his free agent years. In other words, if he goes year to year, a reasonable forecast for his income over the 10 years the Pirates sought to buy out is in the $100 million range. The Pirates offered him half of that, basically, with only the first half of that half guaranteed.

Certainly, a player signing a long-term deal shouldn’t get the full value of his expected future salaries, as he is selling a lot of personal risk, and the value of the first few million to a player is substantially higher than the value of the 70th or 80th million, but the discount the Pirates were asking for here is nutty. $25 million for the team controlled years is a pretty decent discount in and of itself; adding three team options is just being greedy.

Of course, getting the free agent years is the reason why teams do these kinds of deals, and basically every player who signs long term has to give up some free agent rights in order to get early guaranteed money. But the price the Pirates were offering justified delaying free agency by maybe a year or two; the third is noxious, and would serve to delay Polanco’s first bite at free agency until after his age-32 season.

Teams are venturing into new territory with these long term offers to players with no major league experience, and certainly, it’s a significant risk to give guaranteed money to a guy you’ve never even seen face big league pitching. But let’s not overstate the risk of players with Polanco’s pedigree; the majority of similar prospects have turned into quality big league players, and failure is the exception, not the norm. Polanco is worth more than $25 million. If the Pirates bring him up and let him show what he can do, he’s only going to get more expensive. Lose the third year option, or give him $10 or $15 million more in guaranteed money; the Pirates will still come out ahead. Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to keeping franchise talents. Once Polanco starts accruing service time, the Pirates will be wishing they had him signed.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Shawn Young
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Shawn Young
2 years 3 months ago

Nice work.

To the part glossed over “people will do what they are incentivized to do, and the rules incentivize teams to [delay service time]”: you’ve written that well, better than many people might at first realize, and I’d like to talk about that. Yes, teams are incentivized to leave guys down, but I’ve never understood why GMs do it. If I’m Neal Huntington (or any GM), I would absolutely love to get hauled onto my owner’s Lear Jet and get screamed at because we paid Gregory Polanco (or some player) say an extra $25M because we called him up too early. What preceded this conversation?

–Gregory Polanco panned out fully and completely into Andrew McCutchen Part Deux
–The owner’s season ticket holders treated the franchise with respect because We Did Everything We Could To Win
–Seven years after I promoted the kid, I still have the coolest job in baseball.

Aren’t people, that is the front office, actually incentivized in their own careers to get MLB-ready talent to the show ASAP?

On a point of copy-editing: Mid paragraph 4 when you write: “… and would likely qualify as a Super-Two arbitration player after the 2016 season,” should that be “2015” season? Or am I confused?

dcoffell
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dcoffell
2 years 3 months ago

Super Two applies only to players with greater than two years of service, but less than three years. (Specifically, those in the top 22% of this pool by service time.) If Polanco were called up tomorrow, he would end the 2014 season with approximately 140 days of service.

If he played through all of 2015 on the MLB roster, he’d have 1 year, 140 days. Thus, he wouldn’t meet the Super Two threshold until the end of the 2016 season, when he would have 2 years, 140 days.

Shawn Young
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Shawn Young
2 years 3 months ago

Thank you one and all.

Matthew Murphy
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2 years 3 months ago

After 2016 is correct. As Dave mentioned, if he were promoted today, he would accrue about 140 days of major league service time in 2014. By the end of 2015, he would be at 1.140, and then at the end of 2016 he would be at 2.140. The super 2 cutoff has been between 2.122 and 2.146 each of the past five years, so Polanco would likely be eligible at the end of 2016 (at 2.140). If the pirates wait another 20 days, they all but guarantee that he’ll be under the cutoff.

stockhfcrx
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Member
stockhfcrx
2 years 3 months ago

Future potential employers would likely frown upon this, and with the average tenure of a GM being so short, I’m sure that current GMs are well aware of the fact that they will likely be looking for a new job sooner or later. It is a good point though.

jdm
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jdm
2 years 3 months ago

Also, that is assuming money grows on trees (which it might look like given the exploding revenues), but paying an extra $25MM sacrifices the opportunity to buy 4Wins.

By starting his arbitration clock earlier you also could lose a year of team control and I’m going to bet on average prospect WAR in year 7 (6 and change) of team control > WAR in full first year of team control.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
2 years 3 months ago

Shawn, it’s not just the players who pan out that matter. Look at someone like Ike Davis. He was terrible last year – so bad that he got sent to the minors – but he made over $3MM because of Super 2, instead of making closer to the minimum. This year he’s making $3.5MM. So in two years, he’s making close to $7MM for playing subpar baseball. If he was called up after the Super 2 deadline, he would have made, what, $2MM for both years?

It’s not a $25MM overpay, but for a team on the budget (like the Pirates, or somehow the Mets), you don’t want to just throw that money away.

Also, it gives an extra year before you have to consider non-tendering the player. If he plays like Justin Upton, then he’s worth the money. If he plays like Lastings Milledge, then you have to decide a year earlier whether you pay him $3-4MM in arbitration, or whether you non-tender him.

ralph
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ralph
2 years 3 months ago

The side point to this — I wonder if teams would rather have the current Super-2 system, or a system in which all 3rd year players get a $1 million dollar raise. (If $1 million is too easy to say yes/no to, I wonder what the cutoff would be that would make the decision difficult.)

SR
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SR
2 years 3 months ago

Marte rejected his first offer also. I don’t think the door is shut here by any means. The risk is low and I think the Bucs will find a way to sign another young talent for less than market value and continue to operate on their self imposed budget. If Neal Huntington had the monetary resources the Pirates could be a formidable contender instead of what they are now.

Dan
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Dan
2 years 3 months ago

yes exactly. IIRC so did McCutchen. AND also I believe that both ‘rejections’ came out in the press about a month before long term extensions (both huge Pirate wins) were signed

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
2 years 3 months ago

Marte was even less than a month this spring. NH has done a very good job of keeping this stuff (and trade talks) private. They have an open roster spot to fill by tomorrow night after sending Irwin down today. Wouldn’t that be fun ….

tz
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tz
2 years 3 months ago

Dave, any idea how many of the 15 guys on the list were Super-2 eligible (and got the extra year of arbitration eligibility)?

If the offer was presented as a “condition” for Polanco starting the year in the majors, the comparison probably should focus on the non-Super 2 players.

Matthew Murphy
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2 years 3 months ago

Or, at the very least, it should replace the last team-control year with a league-minimum salary for those players who were Super-2s.

Cheesewhiz
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Cheesewhiz
2 years 3 months ago

My first impression from reading about the offer was it was laughably low. I heard about it on MLB network. Ripkin was basically calling Polanco a fool to not take it.

I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but my thought was that it sounded like they just about offered him league average pay to basically lock him up for most of his career. Personally, I would have been insulted. Unless the Pirates know something the world doesn’t know, its hard to believe that Polanco is worth significantly less than say, Gyorko.

Regarding these buyout contracts, I don’t think you can really compare position players to pitchers. The offer would have been far more attractive for a pitcher to take because of the almost guaranteed injuries to pitchers. Again, I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but I would think that over 7 years, DL time is the norm rather than the exception.

Matthew Murphy
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Is it really that difficult to believe that Polanco, who has played a grand total of 102 games above single-A, is worth significantly less than a player who has shown that he can be an above-average hitter in the majors while playing average defense at a premium defensive position and provide 2.5 WAR over 125 games? Not saying the gap should be huge, but seeing a player succeed against major league pitching (after succeeding for a full year at AAA) carries quite a bit of weight, even if Gyorko is playing like garbage right now.

AF
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AF
2 years 3 months ago

Nice article but this sentence seems very wrong: “$20ish million seems to be roughly the current standard offer for a player’s pre-arbitration and arb. years if they sign with very low levels of service time.”

This assertion seems both wrong in principle and in fact. In principle, it would be strange if there were one standard contract amount for all players with similar levels of service time, given the vast variation in ability and value among different players in the same cohort. And in fact, we see that none of the three examples supporting the $20 million figure ever rated as consensus top-30 prospects; Archer lived in the 30-50 range, while Gomes and Quintana never even made any of the major top-100 prospects lists as far as I can tell.

While it is true that Polanco and George Springer, a top-20 prospect, were both offered contracts in the $20 million range, they both understandably turned them down. They did so because they were low-ball offers for prospects of their caliber. They were not “standard” offers in any reasonable sense.

Costanza
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Costanza
2 years 3 months ago

I could understand your disagreement, but object to how strongly you state your case that it is “very wrong.”

Your last paragraph tries to exclude Springer and Polanco because they turned the offers down. Dave explicitly talked about the $20ish million being roughly the standard offer. Polanco and Springer are relevant because they were offered that.

Dave also states that this is rough. He isn’t talking about prospect pedigree (which becomes less important when a player gets MLB experience; that experience quickly starts to trump pedigree).

It’s frustrating to watch people who disagreewrite that they think the author is wrong. It’s fine to have a different opinion or perspective and share it, but you come off like a git when you assert your opinion as facts, then distort the context of the original content to “prove” it’s wrongness.

AF
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AF
2 years 3 months ago

I didn’t present my opinion as fact nor did I distort the context of Cameron’s statement. I simply expressed my disagreement with the statement, which I quoted completely and accurately, and explained my reasons for doing so. Notably, I didn’t insult Cameron or accuse him of “distorting” anything. Physician of unfair arguments, heal thyself.

Turning to the merits, you are correct that if you focus on offers rather than contracts, there are five rather than three examples of the $20 million figure, which, you are also correct, can be seen as setting something of a “standard.” But in the absence of any top prospects actually *signing* such a contract, this “standard” doesn’t seem to have much relevance to the question of what Polanco is worth. It looks more like a case of the Astros and Pirates making low-ball offers.

Emcee Peepants
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Emcee Peepants
2 years 3 months ago

I wonder if Springer now regrets this decision, given his first 19 games’ performance and the fact that he turns 25 in September.

Jason
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Jason
2 years 3 months ago

SSS.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
2 years 3 months ago

Or very large minor league sample with terrible K rates and not exactly young age per level.

Emcee Peepants
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Emcee Peepants
2 years 3 months ago

Every discussion of stats in April/May comes with the SSS caveat understood. If not, Fangraphs might as well shut down until June 1st. He’s been awful so far (but of course hit his first HR today just to make me look like a dick).

Terence
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Member
Terence
2 years 3 months ago

And also a very large minor league sample that tells us he is good at baseball. He has played 20 MLB games. In his first ten he hit .179/.289/.205. In his second ten he hit .305/.333/.444. I think there have been plenty of fine baseball players that didn’t go all Puig the destroyer their first week in MLB. Mr. Trout would be one such example. Why don’t we give the guy more than a month before we label him a bust and a financial dolt.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
2 years 3 months ago

Are we making snake sounds?

Utah Dave
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Utah Dave
2 years 3 months ago

“…it would be strange if there were one standard contract amount for all players with similar levels of service time, given the vast variation in ability and value among different players in the same cohort.”

Isn’t a QO kind of the same thing for free agents ready to walk?

Tomrigid
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Tomrigid
2 years 3 months ago

The average earnings for the group was $28 million; the median was $31 million, thanks to Lincecum’s ridiculous total.

How does Lincecum affect the median, other than being greater than?

xsturmin8
Member
xsturmin8
2 years 3 months ago

Yeah Dave’s analysis is a little problematic there.

Lincecum is an outlier to the right so he would push the mean to be greater than the median, not less like Dave observes. That means that the left outliers are skeweing things more than right ones (not surprising given the number of busts), so the median is higher than the mean in spite of Lincecum’s ridiculous total, rather than because of it.

John Havok
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John Havok
2 years 3 months ago

1st world problems… to sign a 20+ million dollar contract or not…

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 3 months ago

Derp.

SucramRenrut
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SucramRenrut
2 years 3 months ago

Yeah, but would you sign a guaranteed contract at 75% of your pay right now to ensure job security for the next 5 years?

Steven
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Steven
2 years 3 months ago

The difference between earning $45,000 v. $60,000 is a lot different than earning on average $3 million v. $4 million. Your point still stands, but this situation is not even close to analogous for the vast majority of Americans.

ZJ
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ZJ
2 years 3 months ago

This is true, but also a touch myopic – many professional athletes are trying to cram most of their lifelong earnings into a fairly small window compared to the majority of people. Yes, the average annual salaries during that earning period are high for MLB players (and I’m certainly not suggesting that adjusting for length of earning period makes MLB player compensation equivalent to that of the majority of Americans), but the fall-back plans aren’t often great for many of these guys.

Spa City
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Member
Spa City
2 years 3 months ago

The Pirates would have a tremendous bargain if they signed Polanco to a 7 year deal for $35 million with two team options at $15 million per. The Bucs cannot compete on the free agent market, and the new draft rules hurt their advantage in the draft. Their main hope is to develop players like this, sign them through their peak seasons, and let teams like LA and NY overpay for their decline years.

Neal has job security if the Bucs keep winning. He would never get fired for handing out a slightly less team-friendly deal to a likely perennial All Star. I cannot imagine a reasonably foreseeable way in which a 7yr/$35m deal with two $15m options could possibly hurt the Bucs.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
2 years 3 months ago

‘…cannot imagine a reasonably foreseeable way in which a 7yr/$35m deal with two $15m options could possibly hurt the Bucs.’

‘Hurt’ is relative, but there’s definitely risk involved.

josh
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josh
2 years 3 months ago

I think the “market value” of current prospects who sign these types of long term contracts are currently undervalued for one reason you didn’t mention, and that is the desire for lifelong financial stability. Teams have an intrinsic advantage in the prospect negotiation process, knowing that prospects won’t be free agents until after they’re either proven busts or successes. A prospect who desires lifelong financial stability, in real terms, will likely accept slightly below “market value” because the real dollar amount of the contract is so significant. In relative terms he might be giving up a few million dollars, but he might be not willing to give up lifelong financial stability for some additional money he will never spend.

In other words, if a player is offered $40M guaranteed before he has played in the majors, but thinks his value is $60M, then is he willing to give up that security for the extra $20M he likely wont utilize in his lifetime? Im unsure how/if this actually impacts a players mindset (i think it generally does), but your analysis ignores this impact of the real life application of the money and the intrinsic advantage teams have with these types of negotiations.

Iron
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Iron
2 years 3 months ago

It absolutely does. A player is not maximizing their earning potential signing these deals, but the cost is worth not risking an injury that means they never get the big paycheck. The difference in career earnings of $60 million instead of $80 million are not remotely as significant as $0.5 million versus $20.5 million.

Looked at another way, any form of insurance is a bad deal for the insured, in aggregate, or insurance companies would not be so massively profitable.

cfjohnsn56
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cfjohnsn56
2 years 3 months ago

One thing that you are overlooking in your blasting of the Pirates’ offer as absurd is that this is MLB and not the NFL. These contracts are guaranteed and, if Polanco were to flame out or get injured, the team is still on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in those instances.

While the offer is obviously in the Pirates’ favor, so is the majority of the risk. The player could be leaving millions on the table, but they would still be getting millions even if they don’t perform up to expectations or suffer severe injuries. The team doesn’t get off so lucky.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 3 months ago

…which was why he looked back at similar players drafted in similar positions historically, and noted that most (but certainly not all) have panned out and generated, on average, more value than what Polanco has been offered.

bh192012
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bh192012
2 years 3 months ago

I see 15 players listed. 5 of them seem like they would be huge wastes of 20 million guaranteed money. So considering the 1/3 risk the Pirates would take on….

2/3rds of your 39 million figure would be 26 million. That seems reasonable to me for your first millions, considering you have a signifigant chance to make much much less than that if things don’t work out.

Wandy Thurdriguez
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Wandy Thurdriguez
2 years 3 months ago

NFL contracts for high picks are pretty much guaranteed.
Moreover, NFL players are fully empowered to bargain for guaranteed money and do so.
NFL isn’t some abnormal entity where players have no security. All that talk of non-guaranteed contract is just accounting/PR tricks.

Charlie Hustle
Member
Member
Charlie Hustle
2 years 3 months ago

It comes down to risk/benefit.

I don’t have a problem with Pittsburg offering Polanco a long-term deal at discount. Nor do I with Polanco turning it down. Pittsburg is a small-market team. It’s model for success will not involve signing top-dollar free agents or taking on unnecessary risk with unproven prospects.

Defining the risk is the hard part, and I think the cost of risk is often underappreciated by those who don’t have to pay for it. The fact is that 4 of the 15 players from Dave’s chart (26.6%) were busts. Among the hitters, 3 of 8 (37.5%) were busts. Prince Fielder was the only hitter on the list with more than 1/2 season of AAA experience at the time of ranking. Among hitters with less than 1/2 season of AAA experience, 3 of 7 (43%) were busts.

At the time of Pittsburg’s offer, Polanco had 286 PAs in AA with a line of .263/.354/.407 with 6 HRs and 13 SBs. There is a lot of projection in his power and hitting tools. He is still learning to play OF. He is by no means a sure thing.

If he succeeds in AAA and MLB later this year, he will definitely cost more to sign long term. But, having succeeded, he should be easier to project. Pittsburg may end up paying more money for less risk. That does not make the original offer “stupid” anymore that it would make the original offer “smart” if he busts. It comes down to the quality of Pittsburg’s ability to evaluate talent and sign it within the confines of it’s model for success.

Naveen
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Naveen
2 years 3 months ago

Pittsburg, Kansas?

epoc
Member
epoc
2 years 3 months ago

After looking up a couple of the players on the list of comps that Dave offers (Lincecum, Cain, Fielder), there appears to be a serious mistake. He’s using not only pre-arb years but also the first FA year in his “first seven years” calculation. Obviously, that changes the narrative considerably. Looking at just Lincecum, Cain, and Fielder, they actually made an average of 21M less than what Dave cites during their pre-FA years. My guess is that if you look at the same list using only pre-FA years you’ll find that the Pirates’ offer looks pretty reasonable.

It’s worth pointing out that the recent Marte extension pays 18M for Marte’s pre-FA years. Add the league minimum salaries he got for the years he played before signing the extension, and he’s getting about 19M total. With the final guaranteed year, that extension could pay 53M for Marte’s pre-FA years plus three FA years.

So the rumored Polanco extension is actually *more* lucrative than the Marte extension! And of course the Pirates would be taking on considerably more risk in the Polanco deal.

Obviously, the Marte extension is a steal for the Pirates, as would the rumored Polanco extension be, but the team isn’t “pinching pennies” here. This was a very competitive offer based on the relevant precedents.

NB: There’s sort of a catch-22 involved here, as Polanco almost certainly would have started the season in Pittsburgh if he’d signed the deal, in which case the deal actually would have bought out an FA season. But because he didn’t sign the deal, he won’t gain a full year of service this season, so the rumored extension will not have bought out an FA year. Given that Polanco’s service time was undoubtedly tied to his willingness to sign the extension, it seems obvious to me that we should treat it as buying out only pre-FA years, and it seems that Dave agrees, since he framed the question w/r/t “what Polanco should expect to earn during his arbitration years.”

matt w
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matt w
2 years 3 months ago

Yes. It’s a shame that this article might wind up driving the conversation when it looks like it rests entirely on a simple counting mistake.

Let’s break down some of the numbers for the highest-paid players:

Miguel Cabrera: made less than $500K from 2003-6, $7.4M in 2007, $11.3M in 2008, and $14.4 in 2009. That’s seven years in which he made $34M. You have him at $54M because you count the $20M he made in his eighth year in the majors.

Prince Fielder: His 2005 salary isn’t listed in BBRef, but that was his first partial year in the majors, he made league minimumish from 2006-8, then $7M, $11M, $15.5M. So a total of $35.3M or so in his first seven years in the majors. You get to $57.9M by adding the $23M he made in his eighth year.

…and I could go on, but I think the point is clear; if you’re going to count the money that Polanco’s comparables made in the first eight years counting from their MLB debut, then you need to compare it to what the Pirates offered in the first eight years of the contract. Probably something around $32 million ($25 million guaranteed), which is above the average and the median for this group.

I’m not surprised Polanco rejected the offer, but Dave’s math is just wrong.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
2 years 3 months ago

If Polanco was a free agent tomorrow, the offers would be along the lines of 8 years for $144 million. Maybe more. His track record is far more reliable than that of players from Japan or Cuba. At 22 he is tearing up AAA, and he was fantastic for the past two years. His defense and base running make him valuable even if he was not a great hitter. But he also draws walks, gets on base and hits for decent power.

I understand the CBA limits Polanco’s bargaining power. But if the Bucs signed him to a 7 year, $35M contract with two team options at $15M each, they would be getting a huge bargain. That deal would set a new standard for players with no service time, and Polanco would likely agree. They should make the offer and get this guy to PNC.

Steven
Guest
Steven
2 years 3 months ago

He produced a 125 wRC+ in 2012, which isn’t that great. And his track record includes not producing that well in AA and only producing in AAA now for a month. That is not the same as a Jose Abreu or Masahiro Tanaka track record. A 22 year-old is not expected to produce right away like 25+ year-old players who have a better track record.

Also, where did you get that 8 yr, $144 million number?

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
2 years 3 months ago

I’ll take the under on that estimate. Well under.

MrKnowNothing
Guest
MrKnowNothing
2 years 3 months ago

It’s 20ish days. How often have we read that losing a player for a 15 day DL stint really is nothing more than a blip in a season and seen teams chastised for overreacting to such an occurrence? Same thing. Except this blip costs you millions and reduces future flexibility for a team that desperately needs all it can muster. What’s the extra trip through arb cost? Say it’s $10m. If your team lost Mike Trout – someone who could produce the most possible in 15 days – would you advocate signing someone for $10m to play for those two weeks? Would you pay $5m even?

MrKnowSomething
Guest
MrKnowSomething
2 years 3 months ago

The question(s) are really about two MONTHS+, not two weeks (your DL analogy doesn’t apply here), the time between the year-of-control date (the one you really don’t want to give up), which is mid-April, and the Super Two date, which is mid-to-late-June.

So let’s say it’s $10 million and Mike Trout (the most extreme example, certainly)….in two MONTHS, Trout will put up over 3 WAR. Would you advocate for $10 million for 3 more WAR? Um, yes, you better.

For $5 million, even? Um, yes, twice, and the ink was dry before you said “million”.

With Polanco, it’s much closer (as anyone but Trout would be). If he projects to be half-Trout, a 5-WAR player, then it’s 1.5+ wins in that two months (although it’s probably even greater with the Pirates, whose alternatives in RF are putting up NEGATIVE WAR numbers, so Polanco would have an even bigger impact on total wins.

And you might want to ask the Rays, Braves (or anyone in the NL Central if they think 1.5+ more wins might “matter” in terms of making the playoffs or not.

Dave’s right – the Pirates usually NEED to penny-pinch, but this this was definitely NOT the instance to do that.

Swfcdan
Guest
Swfcdan
2 years 3 months ago

Sorry im not interested in what he’s worth, im interested in how we think he’ll PERFORM. That is far more interesting to calculate.

Steven
Guest
Steven
2 years 3 months ago

.270/.330/.430.

Well-Sneered World-Traveler
Guest
Well-Sneered World-Traveler
2 years 3 months ago

Per Steamer: .260/.310/.385.

Drew Carey
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Drew Carey
2 years 3 months ago

.308/.381/.523 with 23 stolen bases. Worth 5.4 WAR.

Josh Tomlin is David Huff
Guest
Josh Tomlin is David Huff
2 years 3 months ago

.312/.364/.472 in the first half and .263/.354/.407 in the second half.

Robot Beeboop
Guest
Robot Beeboop
2 years 3 months ago

At the tone, the time will be 08 23 pm on central daylight savings time.

AB
Guest
AB
2 years 2 months ago

.280/.335/.430 with 10 HRs and 15 SB rest of this season.

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