After the Twitter firestorm of Opening Day coverage died down today, Jeff Passan tweeted a link that Gregory Polanco had signed a five year contract extension (buying out his arbitration years) with two club option years at the end of that deal, giving the Pirates control of Polanco through 2023; the report has since been confirmed by multiple respectable persons on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal is reporting the deal is worth $35 million, with the two options bringing it up to $60 million if they’re exercised.
This is a big coup for the Pirates. The Pirates are effectively giving him a little extra money during arbitration for the ability to control him for what would have been his first three years of free agency at a price of $7 million for the first one and then $12.5 million each for the second and third. The Pirates clearly believe in Polanco to guarantee him that kind of money over the next couple years, while still mitigating their risk by having the two club options that they could decline if his production doesn’t match his value (although by 2022, I have to imagine that $12.5 million is going to be decently cheap for a good outfielder). I like this deal a lot and it’s very similar in structure to the types of extensions to which the Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. Plus, this means that two of the three Pirates outfield spots are locked down through 2021, if they want them to be, which is a pretty good spot to be in.
The one thing I wonder is how this affects a possible extension for Andrew McCutchen. I’m not trying to bring down the Polanco Party; I’m more just wondering aloud what kind of an impact this will have. The Pirates now have three bona fide center fielders on the team, with two of them locked up for several years after McCutchen’s contract expires and the heir apparent, Austin Meadows, on the way through the minors. Regardless, I think this is a great signing for the Buccos and will be recognized in retrospect as such, just give it some time.