Pirates Avoid Arbitration With All Five Remaining Players

Today is the deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures. The Pirates are one of many “file and trial” teams, which means if they exchange figures with a player, the two sides will go to arbitration. Five players were left as of this morning without a contract. Jon Heyman reports that shortstop Jordy Mercer has agreed to a deal worth $2.075M for 2016, avoiding arbitration. He was estimated to receive $1.8M according to projections. This is the first year of arbitration for Mercer, who made $538,000 in 2015.

The Pirates still have until 1pm today to work out contracts with Mark Melancon, Francisco Cervelli, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes. Check back here for any updates.

Yesterday, the Pirates avoided arbitration with Jeff Locke, signing him for $3.025M for 2016. They also agreed on a contract extension Chris Stewart, covering his first year of free agency(2017), along with a team option for 2018.

Update 12:39pm: According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Pirates and Jared Hughes have agreed on a $2.175M deal, leaving three players to go. The deadline is 1pm, but we could hear some agreements after that time as not everything is reported right away. Hughes was projected to get $2.2M, so that number was right on target.

12:45pm: Francisco Cervelli has agreed to a $3.5M deal according to Jeff Passan, exactly $1M more than he was projected to receive. That leaves Tony Watson and Mark Melancon as the last two without agreements.

12:49pm: Passan also reports that Tony Watson received $3.45M, which is well short of the $4.6M projection.

2:31pm: The Pirates announce that they have avoided arbitration with every eligible player, including Mark Melancon. His salary hasn’t been announced yet.

3:22pm: Jon Heyman announces that Melancon got $9.65M, just shy of his estimated $10M.

  • Now that this is over, when do pitchers and catchers report to spring training?

  • Payroll of less than $1OOM – won’t get it done. Could have had Happ and Zobrist and still been ~ $120M and added 4-5 WAR to the team…

    • Why is 100 this magic number we’ve come up with that makes our dreams come true? Money doesn’t equal wins. Value equals wins. The bucs have proven over and over the last few years they can find value above, beyond, or around the traditional market – which rewards past performance and name value.

      • Response…the projected payroll as a percentage of revenue is inadequate. Betting they will find “value” is unnecessary given the increasing revenue and profitability of this franchise. Do you believe that the rotation as presently constructed is the best that they can open with given their 2016 resources and projected revenues? I do not.

      • 100 is not a “magic number” – it might have been 3-4 years ago – but as revenue has increased, the cost of fielding a competitive team has also risen – now in the $125M range. Spending for the sake of spending is stupid – but I specified two specific players who the Bucs COULD have tried to add who would have made them a better team.
        Zobrist would have given them a better second baseman than Walker – and some flexibility…
        Happy would have given them a solid #3 starter and would still have value in the future after Frankie leaves – or would be a nice trade chip if all the young arms develop as we all hope.

        As the year unfolds the 4-5 extra wins may be the difference between competing for a wild card or not and they could be the difference between 2.2M in attendance and 2.5M….

  • Pirates 40-man at roughly $98M. Still can easily fit a $7-8M SP. Looking at you, Latos.

  • Surprised Melancon came in so low…I suppose this salary means he will be traded…

    …or won’t be traded.

  • weltytowngang
    January 15, 2016 5:44 pm

    Last year, 3 pirates went to arbitration, all three are gone.

  • Anyone know what Walker/Mets have done?

    • Walker filed at 11.8, Mets at 9.4

      • Feels like Mets will win that.

      • Thanks for the info. I guess the Mets don’t love him either. $2.4 million is a big gap.

        • blackandgoldpgh
          January 16, 2016 11:44 am

          Huge gap. I guess Walker’s feelings are going to get hurt again if he loses the arb case.. I wonder where he’ll end up in 2017?

          • In fairness to Walker I suspect that he is just going along with what his advisers recommend. Kind of sad that he did not see the value in working with the Pittsburgh front office to come up with a 4-5 year deal in the $30M-$40M range that would have kept him a Pirate until his age 34/35 season. I suspect he can make a bit more in endorsement income as the “Pittsburgh Kid” in Pittsburgh than he will be able to come up with in NY…

            • He stated that he never received a bona fide long term offer from the Pirates on a long term deal. Of course, we don’t know the details of any offer.

      • I always got the sense that Walkers agents put in high numbers which made it unlikely to reach agreement. This tends to reflect that as well. Walker is gone due to his own and his agents overvaluation of his worth.

      • How does that match up to the extension he was offered? 3 yrs 27 million

        • My understanding of the 27M offer was that it the Pirates felt it was way too close to a “full pay” – that Walker was not willing to compromise – trade longer term security for a reasonable discount. Both Cutch and Marte took way less than “full value” in exchange for the security/certainty.

  • Man, I can remember years ago, if you read in the newspaper that a player and their team was going to arbitration, it was almost as if you knew that player wouldn’t be with that team for much longer. Especially remember Bonds when he was with Pittsburgh. I remember at the time there were some talk of the Pirates trading Bonds to the Yankees. Seems like now, both the player and their agent along with the team all want to avoid arbitration if possible. I imagine it’s because things get said that not beneficial to either the team or the player and agent.

  • Everybody reaching agreement is a surprise. I am reminded of Walker’s comments in the Madden interview last week about him being the maybe the only position player taken to arbitration four times. is this a change in philosophy with the club? Don’t tell me all the players caved.

    • I think they just didnt like Walker…

      • Idk, they didnt really handle Walker much differently in arb that most other players. Walker went to arb more than most due to Super 2, so that factors in. Walker seemed to really take the arb hearing to heart, which is unfortunate from both the team perspective and his.

        Going to arb 2-3 times aint totally unusual, and idk why Walker would be shocked the team wasnt willing to extend him in a way that made sense for him. Not a good fit all around.

        • peanutbutterguts
          January 15, 2016 4:57 pm

          Would it be unreasonable to think that maybe Walker wanted to be paid for being the “Pittsburgh Kid” in addition to his on field abilities and the Pirates treated him no differently than a player from Idaho.

          • Walker wanted to be paid what he’s worth by Major League Baseball standards and the Pirates refused. Simple as that.

            • He also wanted that before ever reaching FA.

            • You’re naive if you think their relationship was that simple.

              • I believe it was simple. He over valued himself somewhat, but his relationship with the front office was garbage if you take things at face value. I’m sorry he’s gone but hopefully it’s an opportunity for a younger player to step up and be just as good if not better.

                • I agree, it was just as much a breakdown of trust between Walker and front office as it was money.

            • Didn’t he lose his arbitration case? Sounds like he wanted paid more than Major League Baseball standards. Simple as that.

            • Got to disagree – he is a 30 year old 2+ WAR player who does very little beyond that – not a lot of power – not a great base runner – sub par defender. History of back problems. He was not ever going to get Zobrist money -and look at what the Marlins were able to get
              Dee Gordon [4+ WAR] extended for – and he is a plus defender and plus base runner. Walker and his advisors have way too high an opinion of what he is worth IMHO

          • No more reasonable than the Pirates expecting him to have some sort of extra loyalty and willingness to take a hometown discount imo. Like it or not, this is still a business.

          • While i agree with Mike below, i do think his local ties and pure love of the team growing up made him truly feel the team would do something to keep him around. Maybe im off on that, but it seems like he really thought the team had him in the longterm plans.

            Which, beyond his current contract, never really was happening. Arb upset him likely due to the nature of arb, hearing the team tell someone all the things they dont love about your game.

            • It really was a fascinating interview and I recommend it if you can find it. I think you are dead on about him wanting to spend his career with the Bucs…he said so. Clearly animosity developed during the arbitrations. He mentioned his range stats being brought up and his back issues. Defended his career record as a switch hitter. When asked point blank by Madden if the Bucs FO did everything they could to help the team at the trade deadlines he responded …”somewhat.” But then he rattled off the good guys they did bring in. He actually seemed to hold out hope for a return to Pittsburgh after this year. A shrink could write up an interesting analysis of the 15 minute interview and have a good time with it.

              • I really dont blame him for being upset in general, im just a bit surprised he was the level of upset he appeared to be when getting asked questions about the process.

                I really dont see the team as having done much to upset him, since it was clear they werent looking to extend him unless it was a really nice deal and for him an extension should be demanded to be near market value. Just a poor fit extension wise and as far as arb goes…..no player should show up to that. Team is gonna say really negative stuff, duh.

        • He said in the interview that he assumed he was going to be gone after last years failure in the negotiations….thought it was inevitable. Also stated that he never thought the Pirates made a bona fide offer on a long term deal. Also said that they discussed first base move but he indicated he wanted to link it to long term deal.

          • So he’s upset that they did what they do in every arb case is the only conclusion if i take all that as fact. Tough guy.

    • Sometimes a player overplays his hand – Walker is a good example of this…

      He was a good offensive – poor defensive second baseman. 2014 looked encouraging and had he built on that he might have been tempting – but at his age and with a bad back his future value was not as high as he thought it was.

    • Walker always wanted to force the issue. I think that stance since he became the union rep drove his desire to get the last penny.

  • Now that most of the payroll stuff is out of the way what are the chances of that third starter getting signed?

  • my guess on Melancon 9.5 million

  • John/Tim … I am having difficulty getting to your 2016 salary page. When (on my iPad) I click on the “More” drop down, it just refreshes the home page

  • Any word on the terms of Melancon’s deal?

  • Good for them for agreeing with all five. And this is a good example of why teams choose the file-and-trial approach.

  • piraterican21
    January 15, 2016 2:39 pm

    All 5, nicely done!

  • I’m not an expert in the arbitration process, so what is the advantage for the club to avoid it? Clearly there must be other advantages since they are overpaying the estimated arbitration amounts by a significant amount. Is this just out of concern that the arbitrator would award the player an even higher value than they are able to sign them for?

    • One thing that we heard after Walker left is that the arbitration process can create ill will between the team and player. Basically during arbitration, the team presents all the player’s flaws to argue why they’re only worth $xxx.

      • Very true. One item that glossed over a bit in the Walker discussion is that the player can negotiate to avoid arbitration as well. In Walker’s case, it might have worked better for him since the Pirates “won” their hearing with him last year. Kind of interesting that the three that went to hearing last year are no longer on the team.

      • Good point. Someone else mentioned good will for future extension negotiations with that player/agent as well, which I could also see.

      • I should have read your post first.

      • I see that avoiding arbitration with Watson saved them an estimated $1M. So I guess maybe the money spent tends to average out anyway, and then you have positive vibes with all of your players heading into the season by avoiding the smear campaigns.

      • Yes, and he confirmed that in the interview with Madden I heard last week.

    • When you go to arbitration, you have to show all the bad things about a player. I think the pirates would rather pay a little more. Players don’t like to have their feelings hurt.

    • I talked to Vance Worley last year after his arbitration hearing. Asking him how it went, this was his one word answer. “Brutal”.

      So like Chuck C said, teams and players like to avoid it if possible. I would think that played into Pedro Alvarez “aloofness” after his hearing last year, though I may be wrong. That may have come well before the arb. hearing.

      • A quiet, introverted guy somehow = “aloof” – SMH….

      • Players shouldnt attend arb hearings. The entire point is for one side to be as nice as possible, the other as down as possible. I never understand why any player would assume thats something he’ll benefit from attending. Let the agent deal with that and avoid having the team tell you all your flaws.

        • For the love of God, yes to this. Why any agent would even let his player attend is beyond me…

          • I remember Jack Wilson being asked about it one year when he went and saying something to the effect of “never attend again, brutal.”

            • I seem to remember something about hockey players not being allowed to attend or something. That really makes so much more sense.

  • So it appears the Pirates offer what they think is fair and not that they’re always trying to save money. My guess is that Cervelli gets credit for pitch framing and handling the staff in general that didn’t go into his projection, and that their defensive metrics value Mercer a little more than the standard metrics that went into Mercer’s projection.

  • I am surprise by the Mercer and Cervelli deals. I think Mercer to be too high, and Cervelli to low under the current market standards.

    I will be surprised if Melancon doesn’t go to arbitration, as it leaves the Pirate’s with an open window yet to try and trade him without a “fixed” number as yet attached to him for this season. This might allow another team to trade for him, and offer him a multyear contract.

    Maybe. Perhaps.

    • Id be surprised if they trade him now….just a feeling.

    • $2M isn’t bad for Mercer I think. I consider him to be one of the better defensive shortstops that we’ve had since Jack Wilson. on top of that, with the way the PBC would like to the pitchers to pitch to contact and ground balls. It increases the importance of defense especially at the SS position. It’s more paying for his Defensive abilities more than his Offensive abilities. There’s also not much left in FA. Clint Barmes? – Been there done that. Jimmy Rollins? – he’s ancient and his average was very paltry last year.

      Cervelli I think they might want to do a longer term contract, but health remains an issue to the club also Elias Diaz may be pushing for a job if the PBC decides to move that way next year.

      Melancon has also agreed to terms now. Most likely last year IMO for Melancon and the roles may flip flop between him and Watson this year if he struggles.

      • Excellent points regarding Jordy Mercer; 4th best in defense among Shortstop qualifiers. Let’s hope he gets the bat working – at least as well as he did in 2014, and hopefully better. In 2014 he hit .255 with 12 HR’s and 55 RBI’s. Last year he dropped to .244 with 3 HR’s and 34 RBI’s. If he can get us double figures in HR’s, 50 RBI’s, and a .700+ OPS, the Pirates could put Kang at 3B and use JHAY as a 2B or Utility IF/OF. It would give Hurdle a lot of options.

        • I think that injury and recovery had something to do with his bat never coming around, don’t you emjay ?

          • Agree. (I think) The injury came around the time Mercer usually gets his bat going.

          • I agree the timing of the injury was bad for him in 2015, and I hope he can provide some consistency at the plate. He has shown it in 2013 and 2014, so hopefully a better start in 2016 will put him on the right track for a solid year. We need a team leader at SS this year, and he seems to have all of the leadership qualities to help the Pirates. With the possibility of 3 new position starters in the infield in 2016, a lot will be expected of him. We need his A game.

  • Cervellis number is curious. Maybe first part of an extension?

    • Hopefully the team is trying to create goodwill so they can continue negotiating on an extension, say an additional three years?

    • Or maybe the “peanut gallery” was just off on the expected numbers.

    • Cervelli was great last year and will net himself a nice payday if he can stay healthy this year – but the guy throws out only 1 in 5 base stealers – a contender needs better in this area – especially after we get automatic balls and strikes in the upcoming CBA.

      • Even though I do agree with you on the computerized ball and strike issue, I am not about to bet my money on it given the comments I have heard and read in various media outlets.

      • Morton and Burnett are gone, that number will get better.

    • I was thinking the same thing!!!

  • I see that Brandon Moss just settled with the Cards for 8.25MM. Blah.

  • Melancon’s number is going to be real interesting now that we have seen Watson’s number.

  • Agent gets what % of this amount?

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