The Pittsburgh Pirates and outfielder Gregory Polanco have come to terms on a long-term extension that guarantees $35 million over five years, per Yahoo's Jeff Passan. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the deal carries two team options, which would bring the total value of the contract above $60 million.
The contract will enable Pittsburgh to control the promising 24-year-old through the 2023 season, allowing him to reach free agency at age 31, potentially positioning himself for another significant contract. The Pirates have been seemingly eager to lock up Polanco, previously offering him a long-term deal prior to him making his big league debut. That deal, reportedly worth $25 million over seven years with an additional three club options, was evidently rejected. The Pirates and Polanco "rekindled" talks last spring, though no deal ultimately came to fruition until now. Polanco clearly benefits from waiting an extra two years, earning a higher guarantee while giving up less years of control.
After an uninspiring debut in 2014, Polanco was a solid contributor in 2015, hitting .256/.320/.381 for a 94 wRC+ while also swiping 27 bases. A center fielder by trade, Polanco has been forced into playing right field with the Pirates due to the presence of Andrew McCutchen. He was stellar there last season, contributing 11 defensive runs saved and a 6.4 UZR, bolstering his 2.3 WAR. Much of Polanco's value still rests in his potential, however. Ranked by Baseball America as the 10th best prospect in baseball heading into the 2014 season, there is hope that Polanco can add power to his repertoire, giving the Pirates a third All-Star-caliber outfielder.
McCutchen and Starling Marte were each locked up to similar extensions at a young age, providing the Pirates with ample value. Comparing the players and their contracts at the time of signing:
|Age||PA||WAR||Years (guaranteed)||Options||Value (guaranteed)||Value (including options)|
McCutchen was clearly the most distinguished player at the time of his signing (he was coming off his first All-Star appearance), hence the significantly higher guarantee. Marte was also a more established player than Polanco at that point in his career, despite signing their extensions with roughly the same amount of service time.
Recent springs have been plagued by long-term extensions for the game's young stars, however, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron recently pointed out, this year has been uncharacteristically void of such signings. Polanco joins Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong and Royals catcher Salvador Perez in receiving the only notable contract extensions handed out this spring.