Pirates Tender Contracts to All Four Arbitration Eligible Players

The Pittsburgh Pirates tendered contracts to all four of their arbitration eligible players on Friday night. Pitchers Gerrit Cole, Felipe Rivero, George Kontos and shortstop Jordy Mercer were all expected to be tendered today by the 8:00 PM deadline. The Pirates also tendered contracts to all of their 40-man roster players who either don’t already have guaranteed contract or don’t yet qualify for arbitration. That covers all of the players with less than three years of service time.

In our off-season primer article posted last month, Tim Williams went over the process that these players will go through. Here is his summary of the projected salaries for the arbitration players, as well as the steps in the process. He notes the rules of the arbitration filing process, but the last part about the Pirates being a “file and trial” team means that’s the route they will take this winter, just like many other teams are now doing.

Jordy Mercer, 3rd Year – $6,500,000

Gerrit Cole, 2nd Year – $7,500,000

Felipe Rivero, 1st Year – $3,100,000

George Kontos, 3rd Year – $2,700,000

Once offers are tendered, the team and the player will work to reach an agreement.  If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration during the first two weeks of January.  Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures around the third week of January, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February.  The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.

If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player.  All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.

The Pirates are a file and trial team, which means if a deal isn’t worked out before players officially file for arbitration, then they will go to a hearing.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Yea….Mercer is not worth 6.5M. The pirates are thrifty everywhere except when it comes to shortstops that can’t hit and or field even above average I guess. I really don’t want to hear the defense “that is a bargain for an average player at a premium position.” Other teams have managed and are managing to draft or sign high end SS talent and develop them into immediate impact players who all seem to be emerging at the same time and are playing for peanuts. In the meantime the Pirates are going to pay an average to below average SS 6.5M. Maybe this is just a perceived phenomenon but it seems that every other major league club has a young rookie stud SS who can play defense very well with speed, agility and range while also being able to hit for either power, average or both..everyone except for Pittsburgh. I do not know how much more leeway NH has with this fan base. There are issues up and down this system and, are only becoming more pervasive with every passing year due poor drafting and international selection continuing. There just isn’t much to be excited about besides Mitch Keller, oh and the good laugh / cry every Bucs fan will get when the inevitable Cutch trade blunder is made.


What is the perceived advantage of being a “file and trial” team?


Not a big “advantage” but it provides a hard deadline. Both sides know there will be no negotiations between the deadline and the arbitration hearing. So it forces both sides to put their best offer on the table and not drag negotiations out all the way to the hearing.

Bruce G

I’m surprised Jordy is still in his arbitration years. It seems like he’s been with the Pirates for a longer period of time.

I know Cole is with Boras and this won’t happen, but too bad they couldn’t offer to average out his expected salary for his next 3 years so that he could remain a Pirate for a year after his arbitration years are over. I mean who couldn’t use a few extra million dollars now than 2 or 3 years down the road?


The Pirates possibly had an opportunity the year before he started Arbitration. After a career year of 19-8, 2.60 ERA, 208 IP, the Pirates gave him a $17,000 raise from $531,000 in 2015 to $548,000 for 2016. He felt completely unappreciated, and expressed his contempt. He has not been the same pitcher since.


I am pretty sure they “forgot” to include a $10,000 performance incentive for making the all-star team which Boras had to find and point out to the Pirates who then included it. So he essentially received a 7,000 dollar bonus. He should have signed with the Yanks instead of going to UCLA. This is the life as a Pirate Mr. Cole, no matter what you can always be traded for almost no return and supplemented by some 43 year old with a couple broken rubber bands for arm ligaments.


If anything Cole’s drop in performance justified the Bucs decision to go straight by the process if a long term deal couldn’t be worked out ( as a Boras client I assume Cole wasn’t interested in a low priced buyout of his arb years deal like a Marte or Polanco).

Scott K

I don’t buy what you’re selling here emjay. Even if his “contempt” for Pirates management is true, it’s in his financial best interest to stick it to Pirates by pitching as well as possible.

Causes Pirates to have to pay him more and makes his future FA value increase, too.

I think injury in ‘16 and some bad luck on HR/FB rate in ‘17 explains his drop in production more accurately.


Plus, do not forget he received more than $5M to sign when he was drafted. Cole is not a starving artist by any stretch of the imagination.


It seemed that almost any game he pitched in it would be 0-0 after 5. Bucs gave him no run support at all. That gets to a pitchers head. I think he felt he had to throw a shutout or lose.


I’m not going to lie, I forgot Kontos existed.


Kontos will be a big part late in the games. If he isn’t doing the job successfully as the main 8th inning guy, this bullpen is in serious trouble.


Good points, he was very effective for the Pirates after being picked up from the Giants.

Kerry Writtenhouse

There’s always Hudson! 🙂

Jim Deweese

um…yeah 😉


Rivero already getting $3.1M. He is going to get real expensive real fast. He will probably be $10M by the time he is halfway through his arb years.


They should have non tendered jordy…..time to move on….good player but they could spend the money elsewhere


Nah, until they have a sure starting shortstop, it’s better to have him under contract. If they, I don’t know, sign Zack Cozart or something, then shop Jordy (someone will bite on a middle-of-the-road shortstop, almost certainly, and give up something of some value for him), but even if you don’t deal him, he’s a valuable bench player.

But if they non-tender him and then can’t get a starting shortstop, they’re screwed.


Probably his best overall season in 2017 finishing 12th of Qualified SS in OPS and 7th in Fielding Percentage. 43 EBH from the #8 spot in the order with 11 HR in 2016 and 14 in 2017. He could be a bargain at $6.5 mil.


And he tears up left handed pitching.

Michael Sanders

I’m shocked, but happy about it.


Bamtech after Feb18 will be larger than Netlix



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