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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

First Pitch: Super Two Unfair For Gregory Polanco; MLB Unfair For the Pirates

I’m not sure if I can recall a player who has been anticipated as much as Gregory Polanco, at least for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I also don’t know if I can recall a Super Two debate as big as the one currently taking place with Polanco. Then again, I didn’t cover guys like Wil Myers (June 18th debut), Mike Trout (July 8th debut), Stephen Strasburg (June 8th debut), or other impact prospects over the last few years who were called up to avoid Super Two status.

The Pirates have the perfect storm this year. They are coming off a contending season. Their team is struggling, and the offense has been horrible. One of the big weaknesses is right field. Meanwhile, they have a right field prospect who is showing no weaknesses in Triple-A, and who is only being held back for Super Two reasons. Then there’s the fact that the Pirates are still somewhat fresh off their losing streak. So they’re still going to be treated like the poorly managed team over that 20 year period, while ignoring how the current group has taken massive strides with this team. To put it in perspective, they inherited one of the worst teams in baseball and one of the worst farm systems. Now we’re talking about how the Pirates need to call up the best performing prospect in baseball, because they’re expected to be contenders.

Tonight, Jim Bowden of ESPN and XM Radio was leading the charge for Polanco to come up immediately. The comments were on his radio show, and passed along by Rob Biertempfel. The first one looks at whether Polanco deserves to be in the majors.

To the first comment, technically, Polanco hasn’t earned the right to be a Super Two player. There’s nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that says you must make a player Super Two eligible if he is performing at a certain pace.

If you’re asking whether Polanco should be up right now, in a perfect world, then I’d say yes. If you’re asking if Polanco is currently one of the best 25 players for the Pirates, I’d also say yes. But this issue goes beyond those two qualifications. It’s about the bigger picture, which is where Bowden’s second line comes into play.

Bowden says that the game deserves to see the best players. I really don’t know what this means, but it basically says that the Pirates owe it to the game to call up Polanco, regardless of the price. The Pirates don’t owe anything to the game. The reason they can’t just call up Polanco with total disregard for Super Two status is because the game isn’t fair. You’ve got certain teams who can spend $150-200 M or more. Then you’ve got several more teams who can spend over $100 M. Then you’ve got teams like the Pirates, who would max out at around $90-100 M.

The Pirates are at a financial disadvantage in baseball, due to the uneven financial playing field. Big market teams can burn $15 M on top of home plate, and it wouldn’t impact their chances of success. A small market team like the Pirates has to be financially responsible. They can’t just throw $15 M away on six weeks of a rookie — which is now down to three weeks, making the continued Super Two argument even more ridiculous. That $15 M means a lot more to the Pirates than it does to the Yankees or Red Sox, who don’t have to worry about this kind of situation.

If baseball had a level playing field, and it was common to bring up impact prospects prior to the Super Two deadline, then the Pirates might owe the game something. The game is unfair, and the unbalanced financial playing field is the primary reason why the Pirates — and almost every other team at one point or another — hold players back for Super Two purposes. It’s for these reasons that the Pirates owe nothing to the game.

Going back to Polanco’s rights, any rights that a player has are negotiated by the union and the owners in the CBA. That’s the same CBA that restricted draft and international spending, taking away a huge advantage for small market teams like the Pirates. It’s the CBA that made it harder to get extra draft picks with qualifying offers, and made a qualifying offer almost cost prohibitive for certain teams. The same CBA agrees that baseball has an uneven playing field, and offers up the solution that one extra draft pick for small market teams after the first or second round will help bridge the gap.

You kind of feel bad for Polanco in this situation. He should be in the majors right now. But I don’t blame the Pirates. They’re just playing the game. It’s the same game that many other teams have played in the past. MLB could try to make a change to prevent this type of situation from happening with Polanco or players like him. But if they’re going to make the game fair for Polanco, they need to make the game fair for small market teams. Otherwise it’s just another move to hurt small markets.

And speaking of small markets and big markets, let’s go back to another comment by Bowden, this time offering up a random comparable to the Yankees.

I agree that Polanco would be in the majors with the Yankees. Actually, if he was with the Yankees, he might have been traded a year or two ago. But let’s say he is with the Yankees. If that’s the case, then there’s no doubt that he’d be in the majors, because the Yankees don’t have to worry about Super Two status. Once again, $15 M is just a drop in the bucket to them.

Let’s also recall the previous plans for Polanco from Bowden. First, we go back to last year, where Bowden suggested that the Pirates should trade Polanco, along with Nick Kingham and Jordy Mercer, in exchange for Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez. That’s not the first time Bowden suggested trading Polanco. Prior to the 2013 season, he said the Pirates should deal Polanco and Alen Hanson to the Padres for Chase Headley, who was only under control for two more years.

So let’s recap. Call up a guy for three weeks, which would result in a raise of $10-15 M over the long run? Multiple trade offers of a highly ranked prospect in exchange for veteran players who have 2-3 years remaining on their contracts, and who are making big money?

These are big market moves. These are moves that the Yankees would make, because the Yankees don’t need to worry about Super Two costs, or prospects. That’s the flaw with Bowden’s analysis that Polanco should be up. He’s only looking at this from a big market view, and not considering the long-term impacts for this small market team. Big market teams can live in the present, and let their money take care of any issues in the future. Small market teams need to look to the future with their plans, since they don’t have the same money to throw around.

It’s not just Bowden. Anyone arguing for Polanco to be up while only focusing on the impact this year is taking a big market view at the situation. You can’t just focus on the present and totally disregard the impact in the future. Yes, Polanco deserves to be up right now in a fair league. But the league isn’t fair. Not to Polanco, and not to small market teams like the Pirates.

Links and Notes

**Week In Review: Pirates Revert Back, Polanco Stays Down, Draft News Picks Up


**Top 10 Hitters: Big Week For the Top Prospects, Led By Gregory Polanco, Of Course

**Top 10 Pitchers: Edinson Volquez Has Several Indianapolis Starters Gunning For His Spot

**Prospect Watch: Home Run From Josh Bell, Reese McGuire Extends Hit Streak

**Prospect Reports: Dovydas Neverauskas Flashing a Plus Fastball

**Minor League Schedule: Buddy Borden and Orlando Castro Try to Build on Great Outings

**Pirates Sign Outfielder Nathan Tomaszewski

**Prospect Highlights: Fine Defensive Play By Alen Hanson

**Gregory Polanco Named International League Player of the Week

2014 Draft

**Draft Prospect Watch: Two New Mock Drafts, One New Name For Pirates

+ posts

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Larry Silverman

Has the front office already given up on the 2014 season? How else do you explain their continued refusal to promote Polanco? If the intent is to keep him at AAA so that the earliest he is arbitration eligible is the end of the 2017 season, he will need to remain in AAA until at least mid-June. By that time, it may be to late for Polanco to help the Team make the Playoffs this year.


SPOT-ON, Tim!! What do you expect from an ESPN analyst with a network that doesn’t show a game not involving the Yankees or Red Sox. They only add to the inconguencies. But when your network is based in Bristol, CT — between NYC and Boston — they don’t care. Their viewpoints get vastly skewed.

I just wish Huntington and Nutting would tell the truth. I know they want to take the high road on this, but until they can start making the case publicly that Tim did right here — there will not be change.

dr dng

Do you have an estimate as to when he does comes up?
Does Snider have any value for a for a prospect
or do you anticipate that he will just be DFA?
Or do you anticipate some other move?
Thank you for your response.

Steve Zielinski

Good job, Tim.

Buster Onley is another one trolling the “Every team must maximize the talent of its on-field product at any given moment.” Long-term planning, budget constraints, draft rules, etc. — these count for nothing.

This, by the way, was the McClatchyfield strategy. How well did that work out?

Larry Silverman

Your belief that Polanco has no rights here may not be accurate. Under MLB’s CBA, decisions to option or promote 40 man players to the 25 man roster must be based on their “skill and ability”. If Polanco can prove the Pirates acted in bad faith by keeping him at AAA so he would not reach Super 2 status at the end of the 2016 season, he may have a grievance. Delaying Super 2 status by a year is likely to cost him millions of dollars. His burden is very high, but considering his performance at AAA, the Club’s apparent offer of a multi-year guaranteed contract, the lack of production in RF at the major league level and even the recent injuries to Marte and Tabata, he may have a case.


Larry, you make some excellent points. Can you point me to actual, specific language in the CBA where it references “skill and ability”. Because I think Polanco may be building quite a strong case.

Larry Silverman

Article 7 of Uniform Player’s Contract.

Tacho Bill

If Bowden was good at player management, he would still be a GM and not an announcer. End of story.


Tim,after having had time to think about your rebuttal to Bowden,and somewhat to Biertemple,I have to tell you that it was terrific. As someone who listened to that guy spout all of July and August of last year about how NH should trade him for Stanton,then listen to him again this Winter again talking nonsense ,regarding their first base situation,I have to congratulate you. As for Biertemple,sometimes I wonder if he understands anything at all about the financial complexities of the modern business of baseball. Once again,GREAT job !

B Thomas

I sent this article to Rob on Twitter. He called your perspective on this “Interesting” but “Flawed”.


That’s funny. Anybody citing Jim Bowden as an authority who thinks somebody else’s reasoning is “flawed” needs to plug up his ears before the remaining 90% of his brains leak out.


That’s because Rob Biertempfel doesn’t understand how to run a business. What the Pirates are doing is exactly what any well run business would do: maximize your assets. The reason they must go to such extremes is due to the inherently unfair system Tim points to. Rob Biertempfel looks at the game like a fan; Bob Nutting looks at the game like a business. Lucky for us sustained winning over time makes money because that’s the long view Nutting has taken. The only way to succeed with this philosophy is to pour resources into the farm system, lock up talent at a young age and sign a few select free agents. If we had an owner who had the resources of Mark Cuban we may see a different story but for now we have to play by the rules of the market and MLB.


There is some decent logical reasoning in Tim’s analysis about the haves and have nots. But from a big picture standpoint I think the Pirates MUST do whatever is reasonable to get elite talent on the field and work within the system(ie long term contract). The option years do not indicate to me the Pirates were truly serious about getting on the field before Super 2 had passed.


Tim, Maybe you should call the Pittsburgh media people and let them have the other side of the story, one they can’t see or won’t see. Between the MLB players union and MLB owners they have done everything they can to drive small market teams out of the game. It is a tribute to the Pirates and their management that they can put a competitive team on the field in minor league city such as Pittsburgh with such imbalance. I have lived in the Pittsburgh area my whole life, but lets face it, the Pens and Steelers would not be in Pittsburgh if their leagues were run like MLB. The Steelers could not even afford to stay in Pittsburgh with nothing but attendance as their revenue, nor could the Pens. Those leagues make rules that even the playing field for everyone.


Well put. Three weeks of rookie production at 12-15 mil? Or a year of his prime at league min.. MLB is a business and the Pirates need to look at their prospects, especially a Palanco, as such.


Bowden is an idiot. That being said, I don’t really get why so many people are focusing on him. The real issue is why haven’t the Pirates found a way to sign Polanco to get around this issue. It take 2 to negotiate but the apparent first offer was ludicrous in terms of option years.

The Pirates management aren’t very sympathetic characters imo.


The Pirates are not dummies and I
would hope to think that Polanco’s agent is not a dummy either. If I
were guessing I would have to say the super two fact was a large part of
the negotiations, trying add a super two figure into a contract like
Polanco’s would be very difficult to do since he has not even played one
minute of major league baseball and it is a figure that no one can
figure out in advance.


I don’t know- they could up the guaranteed money a little bit- money up front is worth more than money later obviously but I think the guarantee wasn’t bad.

But they either have to considerably increase the option for maybe only 2 years, maybe a 2 year option at 35 million, or give some guaranteed money in one of thost option years.

But what they offered isn’t close to getting it done imo.

David Lewis

Yes, it was ludicrous to reserve the right to pay $35M for the eighth, ninth, and tenth years of service of a 22-year-old who had seen a grand total of 21 PAs above AA – there’s no reason to expect he’ll ever be worth that much money, or even that he’ll have a career that long, so why even ask?

Oh, that’s not what you meant. Never mind.


Please get a grip- first of all you don’t know it’s 35 million- its between 25 and 35 million- so anywhere between 8 to 12 million a year- That might represent slightly more than 1 WAR at that point in time with inflation. And they are not “reserving the right to pay”- they are reserving an option to pay or NOT pay should he not pan out as you cite as the risk in your scenario.

Perhaps you don’t understand the concept of an “option”.


has Bowden criticized the Cardinals for holding Oscar Taveras down? i bet not…


restricting draft and international spending doesn’t really hurt the Pirates very much. Other teams could have increased their spending in these areas (and probably would have if Bucs demonstrated sustained success). It was only a matter of time until the Bucs willingness to spend more than others would have disappeared. Pretty amazing that Bucs were able to be successful here in that dollar amounts invested in these areas are a drop in the bucket compared to major league salaries.


Just when I think I can’t despise Jim Bowden more than I already do, Tim reminds me I haven’t reached my limit yet.


Tim. Ya oughtta send the link to the article to those mooks.


Great article. Nice work on breaking it down piece by piece and shining a light the the ridiculous statements made by Bowden. I contend that the “conventional wisdom” by most all of the mainstream sports media is almost always wrong.


Excellent article Tim- Do we have a target date for expected (safety) to call him up at this point


Bowden’s just pissed off because he wasn’t in position to get a kickback on Polanco’s signing bonus.


Bowden is a blowhard and sort of a strawman as far as I’m concerned. I don’t take anything he says seriously. But I hope no one is making an association with Bowden and others who feel that the Pirates could have done more to get Polanco up here already. The ultimate issue to me is this: are the Pirates doing whatever is reasonably within their power to get Polanco up to help them win games and I don’t think they are with the extreme lowball in his option years. I would love to know what their next offer was(assuming there has been another offer recently)

Roger Huffman made a good point. The Pirates would be a more sympathetic character in this tale of the haves and have nots had they spent a little money in the offseason and had a team at least as good as the previous year while others in the division were improving. At the end of the day we basically did nothing in the offseason and let one of our best players walk away.


What others in the division improved themselves? The Brewers signed Garza for 4/$50 mil and he has a worse ERA than Volquez. Which one of Overbay or Reynolds were you clamoring for the Bucs to sign? They’re scoring fewer runs than the Pirates. They’re improvement has been the other SP (Lohse, Peralta and Gallardo) stepping up big time, and Estrada to a lesser extent. Also they’ve been lucky (including getting to play the Bucs a lot) and they’ll come back to earth.
The Reds lost Choo, Arroyo and and Ryan Hannigan and replaced them with Manny Parra, Skip Schumaker and Bryan Pena. Only Jim Bowden could call that improvement.

The Cards signed Peralta, who has been good, and reshuffled some chairs at 2B, 3B and CF. They’re scoring fewer runs than the Bucs and have a much worse record than last year as well.
Yes the Bucs passed on Abreu and Morneau, targeting Loney and when that didn’t work, the internal option of Lambo. But they also passed on Garret Jones, Smoak, Logan Morrison and probably a few others that people wanted them to acquire. None of them are any better than Ike. It’s easy to say they missed out on the jackpot of Abreu (though the jury is still very much out on that) or Morneau (even though he hadn’t done anything for 4 years and most thought he was finished). But MIL had a bigger hole at 1B than the Bucs and didn’t sign Abreu or Morneau either. Should they be forced to sell the team?


What did Pirates accomplish this offseason? What? They tried to sign James Loney, they really, really tried to sign a few guys and it didn’t work out. They should have gone hard after Abreu- not Monday morning quarterbacking- could have solved a big problem at 1st base without trading for Ike. They should have at least made QO to AJ.

I would much rather have Garza than Volquez regardless of their ERAs at this point in time. Let’s call it what it is with Volquez without making it complicated. He stinks. Searage can’t fix him. He is who most thought he was.

Do you really think Pirates made concerted effort to get better? Or was the thinking “hey we were damn good last year, we just need to maintain”

If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse


Boom! Great job Tim. Let’s hope this is the message the Pirates are sending during the interviews for Selig’s replacement.


You simply cannot compare the EVIL EMPIRE situation to the Bucs. It’s not even relevant due to the facts you so succinctly laid out. Compare the Bucs to similar revenue teams and they would all do the same thing.

Chris Hale

Fantastic article Tim. Don’t agree with the offense being horrible but liked everything I read. Bowden is clueless like a lot of his colleagues . They see it as unfair to the game and it’s fans that the Pirates hold Polanco and other top prospects back. but most of them don’t like to be told baseball is an unfair game because of spending. A lot of them will say ” well look at the Rays or A’s they find a way to stay competitive. Exactly . They do the same exact things the Pirates are doing now to stay competitive over the long haul

Ron Zorn

It is always very easy to spend someone else’s money.


It funny about the Yankees comment. I live in upstate New York and had to watch the games on the YES network this past weekend. Michael Kay and Paul O’Neil, who do the games for the YES network, got into the discussion about Polanco. Kay and O’Neil completely understood the decision by Pittsburgh and said it something that baseball has to fix.
Paul O’Neil, of Reds fame, went on to talk about the fact that the bench during the second game of the double header was making more than the roster of the Pirates. With Jeter, McCann, Ellsbury, Soriano all sitting the second game and Beltran and Sabathia on the D.L. That group makes up 106 million and Pirates are fielding and competing, maybe not where they want to be, the whole 25 man roster at 75 millions. Kay went on to explain how the Yankees fans don’t realize how lucky they are to have the luxury of financial free in terms of baseball spending.

Lee Young

Roberto’s Dad….thank you for that perspective. Glad to hear that even the Yankees recognize the imbalance.


Oh the Yanks recognize it, Lee, and will do everything they can to make sure it stays that way. Or gets worse for the small markets.


Wouldn’t you? I mean if you won the lottery at 150 million. You know, you would be complaining about the 75 million in taxes you are paying…..it is human nature.

Lee Young

And, if I was a Yankee fan, I’d feel the same way. “Ain’t MY problem….”.

Lee Young

If Bowden was our GM a) our system would be in a shambles and b) he wouldn’t call Polanco up either.

And, if anyone other than Nutting (ie, Cuban) were owners of the Bucs, things wouldn’t change, either. Actually, they could get worse (see McClatchy, Kevin).

I almost wished Nutting WOULD sell the team, just so people would finally realize that there is no Daddy Warbucks gonna ride in on a white horse and make the Bucs big spenders.


Chris Hale

The offense has been horrible? Check that. This offense is top 5 in baseball this month. The pitching has been awful. The Buccos are currently 1st in baseball in OB% in the month of May. 4th in avg. and 6th in OPS. No, can’t blame the offense for the record we have. They were bad in April but pitching was just as bad.The offense has been good enough to win every series this month. Walker has been our best offensive player, (because Cutch isn’t being pitched to.) Walker should have a shot at the ASG. Davis and Sanchez are doing great in their 1B platoon. Mercer’s coming on. Marte is hitting well and they’ve gotten timely hits from the bench. Harrison has been great. Stewarts done well , Snider and Tabs aren’t lighting the world on fire but I’ve seen them do worse. Our record would probably be identical with Polanco. He’s not going to have a 1.000 Ops in his first 100 AB’s I guarantee it. It’s time send Volquez to the pen and bring up Cumpton. Give Wandy a few more starts to get right . might have to eat some of his salary. I have a feeling Worley’s is going to contribute . Maybe Locke can regain some of his early 2013 form


Thanks Chris, I was going to post something similar about the offense not being horrible. They’re 10th in the NL in runs per game, ahead of the vaunted Brewers, Cardinals and Reds (but behind the Cubs…let’s check the standings…hmmm maybe pitching does win games, along with timeliness and luck). They are exactly 6 total runs out of the 5th spot in runs/game. I’m pretty sure they had that many runners thrown out on the bases in the doubleheader against the Yanks.
And as an aside, if Bowden keeps offering suggestions about Polanco, eventually he may get one right. But as Tim pointed out, he’s at least 0 fer 3 so far.

Rick Atkinson

Excellent analysis. MLB went further to handicap the Pirates when they changed the rules to create salary slots for draft picks and penalties for overpaying.
I hope a new commissioner has a more level playing field in mind for the future. That search committee may be the most important thing Nutting does all year.

Roger Huffman II

What is unfair is that Bob Nutting is allowed to own a team. The economics of the game stink. But a guy who is not willing to spend like everyone else should not be allowed to own a game. He is trying to be a rational business man in an irrational business. When you are coming off of 94-wins and the only moves you make are resigning everyone’s favorite punching bag Clint Barmes, acquire a cheap backup catcher, and sign a guy who was released mid season by one of the NL’s worst teams, it is a slap in the face to the fans and quite frankly to the guys in that clubhouse. It comes off as they aren’t even trying. I normally cringe when Jim Bowden speaks on the Pirates but a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then and he is dead on with his assessment. Having a self-imposed salary cap is ludicrous. Not attempting to sign Abreu is pathetic considering how putrid their offense was last season and the fact that Alvarez isn’t a cleanup hitter. They had glaring holes and did next to nothing to fix them. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that they needed a 1B, RF, SP, and bench help. But to field a payroll lower than last year is embarrassing . Relying on prospects is just not what you do when coming off of 94-wins. Sure, Polanco and Taillon are exciting prospects but putting your eggs in their baskets is a dangerous game. Why not sign a pitcher in the offseason whether it was shelling out a back breaking 2 million more for AJ or someone else. If Taillon comes up in June and excels and you have a logjam, trade the vet. When you have the team president boasting about 40% season ticket sales increase! a top half tv deal, and are getting 20-25 million from national tv money, it is shameful to field a lower payroll than last year when you have holes and are coming off of 94-win


Unfortunately there is a lot of truth in this post Roger. I defended Pirates management the last few years but this past offseason squandered a lot of good will. It really was a wretched offseason.


I echo Scott’s comment. Let’s not ignore the fact of the Pirates offering a laughable amount for his OPTION years. After a dreadful offseason in which opponents such as the Brewers made moves to improve the Pirates treaded water(at best). I think they could have had Polanco on the field and contributing to probably at least 2 wins(please save WAR references) had they made a realistic offer instead of 25-35 for 3 option years.


Bowden on that XM radio show is always spouting nonsense. It’s just a way to drum up listeners and caller debate.
Nothing he says should be taken seriously.

Lee Young

or anything he writes in his ESPN INsider column.


Lol at the links to FORMER GM Bowden’s trade articles. Just imagine how mad we would be if they made one of those deals with what we know about Polanco now.

Biertempfel keeps on interviewing these old timey baseball types from on the Polanco situation. How about someone like keith law or dan szymborski if he must interview espn people? He himself doesn’t even have a full understanding of super 2. In one of his articles, he says that the downside of bringing up Polanco is a one-time fee of a few million dollars. Either that or he purposely lied by omission in order to get less knowledgeable fans all fired up.

We all know that the fee is more than just the cost of theach early arbitration year and that the other years build off of that year.

Scott Kliesen

Agree w all your points Tim. However, it doesn’t excuse the Pirates from low balling him on the option years contract extended a few weeks ago. They are 100% responsible for this decision. And now we’re all reaping what they sowed.

David Lewis

You mean “low balling him” by offering him the same as comparable players were offered in comparable situations? I do not think that term means what you think it means.

Scott Kliesen

My point is the a Pirates did not fairly take into consideration expected salary increases due to inflation when making their offer to Polanco. As such, IMO, and his too, I might add, it was an inadequate offer.

And now we’re subjected to watching inferior talent for at least a couple more weeks playing RF.


Scott, the fact that polanco rejected the initial offer doesn’t necessarily mean it was inadequate. Was the Tiger’s offer to Scherzer likewise inadequate?
Also, presumably it was the first offer from the Bucs. Initial offers are turned down approximately 99% (though I could just be making that figure up) of the time. It’s a starting point for negotiations, nothing more or less. If Polanco had accepted the first offer, it would have meant the Bucs offered too much.

Scott Kliesen

Comparing Polanco’s situation to Scherzer or any other ML player with accrued service time is an apples to oranges comparison.

Scott Kliesen

That makes sense if Pirates made a take it or leave it offer. If there was any further negotiation from initial offer to report offer turned down, than you’re mistaken.

David Lewis

No team takes into consideration expected salary increases due to inflation. Or perhaps every team does, because they all end up at around the same value for equivalent expected risk-adjusted production.


The pirates offered him that contract during spring training when he had only played 2 games at triple A. Don’t know what you think they should’ve offered at that point.

Scott Kliesen

It was reported Polanco turned down contract offer earlier this month.


Great stuff Tim. This is a good reason why ESPN shouldn’t employ failed GMs to explain baseball to us.


Great Article that should be forwarded to Jim Bowdin!! The dude knows damn well that the Pirates can’t afford to do anything stupid like that!! Plus, I will give it to Neil Huntington, the dude knows how to SQUEEZE a dollar!! He ain’t even listening to the Polanco arguement!! He wants to see Polanco in the Majors more than anyone and trust me, that date is circled on his calendar!! The bigger question is who does Polanco replace??? Should Snider and Tabada go and bring Andrew Lambo along for the ride?? Take the light off of him and let him ease into the Majors?? I kinda like that!!


I quit listening to Bowden on Sirius-XM for just the reasons Tim points out. He is a complete idiot, and is exactly where he ought to be : on satellite radio and no longer functioning as a MLB executive.

Lee Young

‘squeeze a dollar?’ sounds like my mom who raised 5 kids….lol.


To add to the previous comment, I hear a lot of naysayers saying a salary cap would not be fair to the players. I say b.s., when’s the last time you saw an nfl,nhl,nba player living on ramen noodles and spam? These guys are highly paid athletes they are not going to suffer because some guys won’t have 200+ million$ contracts!


I’m assuming you’re not living on ramen noodles and spam correct?

So I’m guessing you’d be willing to submit yourself to a pay cut?

I mean given your example of ramen and spam it follows that anyone who makes enough that they don’t have to eat those items should take a pay cut to make things more fair for their employer


Nobody gets a pay cut with a salary cap, contracts are structured so as to allow a team to remain under the cap. If anything players at the bottom make more than they would without the cap, making the pay scale more fair for all involved.

Erik Johnson

Except that isn’t really what happens in a cap world, not by a longshot. Star players still get their big contracts because teams are still willing to pay big money for players that will fill seats. The players at the bottom, especially veteran role players, are usually squeezed out of the league unless they are willing to accept bottom dollar because there is always a young kid that you can pay league minimum for to replace him.

Many players take huge pay cuts in a salary cap world.

B Thomas

Agreed. Look at the NHL and NFL. Players get cut all the time because they can’t fit them in the “CAP” so then they bring in guys for league minimum.


Two words, salary cap! Do you think the steelers could be competitive without a salary cap? How about the pens? Our the okc thunder? The answer is no, emphatically no! America’s pastime and it has no salary cap , while every other major sport in america has one and all of them are doing quite well. To me this is pathetic!


A Salary cap is a lazy panacea, you cannot compare baseball to the NFL or NBA which have almost entirely state subsidize development systems. If the revenue streams aren’t centralized, the largest market teams will use their revenue advantages in other areas. If you cannot give players $20 million/year contracts those draft limits don’t look so expensive. You would have to cap everything, and why would large market teams give up these advantages, and the MLBPA might not favor severe restrictions on the earnings of the top players.

When two relatively strong parties are negotiating the league’s labor structure, there are no cure-alls, and you end up with unintended quirks like, top prospects being held down because of service time.

David Lewis

Three words: Strong revenue sharing.

A salary cap without strong revenue sharing means only that the owners of high-revenue teams pocket more profits. Additionally, if there’s a salary cap, there’s going to be a salary floor. If a team like the Pirates is obligated to spend at least $100M in salaries without a change in revenue structure, they’ll quickly go into bankruptcy, get bought, and get moved to a higher-revenue market.

The reason the Steelers are competitive isn’t so much the salary cap, it’s that the majority of the NFL’s revenue is equally divided among the 32 teams, so each team starts out with roughly the same amount of money to spend. Then the salary cap prevents those teams like the Cowboys who are able to capture more local revenue from dominating.


Nailed it, Tim.

Andy Prough

Except for the part where he forgot to mention that Polanco was a weak-hitting low average guy for his first 3 minor league seasons who only had 2 games at AAA prior to this season. And that Polanco is still working on specific holes in his game. Here’s a sample from just six days ago from an article on this site: “I’m working on the off speed, like change ups and curve balls,” Polanco said. “It’s hard right now, but I am working every day to get better.”

If he’s having trouble with off-speed pitches and curve balls in Indianapolis, he’s going to have a rude introduction when he puts on a Pirates uniform in June. I’ve seen far too many hot-hitting guys from Indianapolis flame out once they get called up (Lambo?). Let’s hope Polanco uses these few weeks to work on plate discipline. And let’s hope no one puts the burden of the entire Pirates season on the poor kid’s back – their losing ways so far this year are entirely the fault of the players on the field and Hurdle. If/when Polanco does get called up, he shouldn’t be expected to out-perform Starling Marte in his first MLB action – roughly a .280 hitter – that would be a very good debut, but not nearly enough to save the Pirates’ season if they keep playing like they are. Don’t put such a heavy burden on Polanco – he’s just a kid still.


“Working on” and “struggling with” are not the same thing. And working to get better doesn’t necessarily mean that he has problems with off speed pitching, just that he’s trying to get better, which is what everyone in the minors is doing. His plate discipline doesn’t appear to be an issue to me. Yes his walk rates a little low but his K rate is low too, so I think you’re reading a little too far into just a couple quotes

Andy Prough

I can agree with that. Clearly he’s raking, and I have high hopes for him. Savior for this Pirates’ season? I think that’s the wrong kind of expectation. But if it happens – awesome! As long as he’s in Indianapolis for whatever reason, I hope he learns and progresses and just keeps working on his game and not worrying about the screwed-up economics of baseball.


I know, and I agree that he can’t fix everything by himself, he only gets to swing the stick after the other 8 guys ahead of him do. But law of averages will catch up to these Pirates eventually this year, few teams avoid it and underachieve like this. So I think they’ll turn it around and I think Polancos law of average is much better than Sniders, so he has a real opportunity to make a fantastic impact this season, but only if the rest of the team picks it up with him. Which is what many miss about the Puig argument. The teams improved play proceeded Puigs impressive play, not the other way around. I mean he can’t be that good if the bases are empty. And that is what Polanco will need, teammates on bases, and the opportunity to make an impact


Well when Lambo was called up last year he rarely played so your ” hot-hitting guys from Indianapolis flame out once they get called up (Lambo?)” remark is stupid. And having a bad spring in major league camp doesn’t qualify as flaming out. And since he hasn’t been called up this as well as Polanco your entire comment is fairly perplexing.

Andy Prough

I said he’s not going to be Trout or Puig and he’ll be more likely to struggle like Marte. Hopefully he doesn’t struggle as badly as Lambo. What’s hard to see there? Do I think he’ll perform better than Snider? Sure! Will that alone save the Pirates season? No, and I would prefer he not have that pressure.


++++ Andy !


Wow, I didn’t think anyone had bought the whole “Polanco still has stuff to work on” B.S.

Andy Prough

You’ll be shocked when he doesn’t hit .400 in Pittsburgh then. I’m assuming you felt Lambo was a sure thing last year – franchise savior? Yes Polanco still has things to work on, and will have for years to come.

Ron Zorn

Absolutely! Anybody who doesn’t think so only has to look as far as Starling Marte.


Andy- you are missing the point here. A highly motivated, highly skilled player can provide a shot of adrenaline to a team who needs it. Right now, we need a change, a new energy, and the excitement along with the effect re re-aligning the lineup makes an immediate impact. It doesn’t really matter if he hits .250 or .325 this year, the potential trickle down benefit could be huge. It could be Yasiel Puig like, without a lot of the immature issues Puig has. Puig hit fantastic but his stats alone or (WAR) do not change a team from last place to a highly above average one, it was everything else that came with him which woke up the team and got everyone going. That’s what we hope to see when Polanco arrives


Y2 : do you mean when Puig was called up he brought Hanley Ramirez along and then revamped the Dodger bullpen ? This isn’t meant as sarcasm, but unless GP can do those same things, he will NOT wake up the Pirates and make them into a contender, at least not this season.

Andy Prough

He’s not going to be Puig and he’s not going to be Trout. I hope Tim writes a couple of articles to scale back expectations. Polanco isn’t going to make up for Pedro batting .200. He isn’t going to make up for blown saves or starters giving up four run first innings. These Pirates need to figure out how to save themselves.


You are never going to make up for your “I know better than everyone else” comments either. You obviously are not a Pirate fan when you are hoping a kid that even the best people in baseball fell will be either a star or a very good player for years, and you hope he fails.


John,what is your excuse for ” I know better than everyone else comments ” ? Do they mean you are more right than Andy Prough ?

Cato the Elder

Whoa there, buddy. The poor guy never said anything about hoping he fails, he only said that unreasonable expectations are a set up for (perceived) failure, which is completely true by the way.


Well I may have been a bit overboard by stating he hopes that he fails rather than saying it sounds like he hopes that he fails. But it is a little early to be writing Polanco and Lambo off. But saying Lambo “flamed” out after 33 plate appearances in Pittsburgh last year is a bit of short measuring stick for anyone.


Yea, but he’ll make up for Travis Snider batting .200.


I didn’t think Lambo was a sure thing because maintaining a low K rate is crucial to success in making the jump to the Majors. Polanco is as sure as they come.

Polanco has “things to work on” in the sense that he’s human and doesn’t hit a home run in every AB. But he probably has fewer holes in his game right now that anyone in the organization that isn’t named Andrew McCutchen. Polanco could slump when he reaches the Majors. But he won’t fail. I guarantee it.

Andy Prough

You guarantee it? That’s useful. The guy is going to have a hard time – they all do except Trout. You are just setting yourself up for disappointment. And poor Polanco is going to be called a bust if all he does is play as well as Marte did when he was called up. I’m afraid to think what will happen if he struggles like Lambo or Hague – he’ll get crushed.


Actually Trout OPS .672 in his 1st 40 games when called up. That’s positively Snider like. Of course he was 19 years old at the time. But indeed there are no guarantees.


Why are you comparing a top ten overall prospect in baseball to a marginal prospect and a non-prospect?


LOL- Huntington actually has a few people still believing that.


I second that Comment!!!

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