One of the biggest complaints after Jorge De La Rosa re-signed with the Colorado Rockies was that the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t even make an offer to their top free agent target. Those complaints seemed strange, since there was no evidence to support the claims. Ken Rosenthal mentioned that only the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies had made offers, but other reports, such as Buster Olney of ESPN and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, reported that De La Rosa received multiple offers, outside of what the Rockies were offering.
Dejan Kovacevic reports today that the Pirates did make a highly competitive offer to De La Rosa. Yesterday, Buster Olney posted an update on Twitter saying that De La Rosa turned down multiple offers that were larger in order to re-sign with Colorado. Jon Heyman also mentioned that the Rockies starter took less to sign with Colorado.
The news that the Pirates made an offer isn’t really significant to De La Rosa. He clearly wanted to remain in Colorado with pitching coach Bob Apodaca, and received a very player friendly deal, giving him up to $11 M a year for four years, along with the ability to become a free agent after two years, which is beneficial if he has a breakout year in the next year or two. Whether the Pirates made an offer or not, De La Rosa seemed set on returning to Colorado.
What is important is what the Pirates will do with that money now that De La Rosa is gone. De La Rosa essentially received $31.5 M guaranteed over three years, if he exercises his player option in year three. Kovacevic mentioned that the Pirates made a competitive offer, and while he had no details, we could assume that competitive at least means the same annual amount ($10 M a year). Olney and Heyman mention that De La Rosa turned down more money, and Heyman also mentioned he turned down four year offers. It’s all speculation, but piecing the comments of Olney, Heyman, and Kovacevic together, along with the money De La Rosa did receive, we can assume that the Pirates were willing to go somewhere in the 4/$40 M range. We can also make a stronger assumption that they were at least willing to commit $10 M to De La Rosa in 2011.
So where does that money go now? Do the Pirates split it up for multiple players? Do they apply it to another top free agent? Do they use the money to take on a good player with a bad contract? That will be a situation to watch in the next few weeks, especially with the non-tender deadline this week, and the winter meetings approaching next week.