The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t need Gregory Polanco…….yet.
Pirate fans once again seem to be split on whether it makes sense to bring him up now or save an entire year of arbitration eligibility. To me, the answer is simple.
Staying with our current right field for another month or so is much better than paying another arbitration year of Polanco in his prime. It’s not even debatable.
For those who don’t understand, It’s best explained simply. If a top prospect debuts on Opening Day, he’ll be a free agent in six years. However, by waiting one month, a team can push back his free agency an entire year. Additionally, if they wait a little longer, they can avoid “super two” status, and knock off a year of arbitration eligibility.
That means that the Pirates, who are budget dominated to begin with, will save $10-15m dollars during Polanco’s career with the team. That’s assuming he’s going to be an all-star talent when he’s 27 years old. And for a team that doesn’t have a ton of money to play with, that cashed saved is the difference between re-signing another quality player to a long term agreement or not, or possibly picking up another player in free agency or not.
Granted, this kid is the definition of electric. He’s slashing .393/.449/617. He’s got a cannon for an arm. He runs like a deer. And he seems to be the perfect fit for what Pirate fans perceive to be the main problem for the lack luster start.
Even though he’d be an upgrade in right, bringing Polanco up now would not mean that the Pirates are automatically going to rattle off a ten game winning streak and end up in first place in the NL Central by the all-star break.
Baseball is probably the sport where one person in the field matters the least. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Baseball has 9 players that take turns hitting throughout the course of a game. Do you think Greg Polanco is going to go 4 for 4 every game? Or 3 for 4…or even 1 for 4?
I hate to break it to you, but there will be games where Polanco doesn’t even get on base. There will be games where he strikes out 2 or 3 times as well. There will be games that he makes errors. I know, it’s shocking, but yes….it’s true.
Now don’t get me wrong. Greg Polanco is the future in right field. The very near future. But why would you bring him up 4 weeks earlier if it means you can possibly lose millions in cash that you are going to sorely need in 6 years? Especially if you don’t HAVE to.
So the ONLY answer is to bring him up after his ‘super two’ status passes and avoid the accelerated arbitration. We can maintain without Polanco for another month.
Looking at the production by position, right field has actually held it’s own.
Catcher - .252BA 17 RBIs 9 Runs Scored
1B- .232BA 16 RBIs 17 Runs Scored
2B- .265BA 18 RBIs 15 Runs Scored
3B- .207BA 16 RBIs 15 Runs Scored
SS- .166BA 7 RBIs 10 Runs Scored
LF- .262BA 6 RBIs 16 Runs Scored
CF- .307BA 16 RBIs 16 Runs Scored
RF- .231BA 14 RBIs 12 Runs Scored
So as you can see even though Right Field production is not leading the way, it’s certainly not bringing the entire team down so much that Polanco’s presence is needed immediately.
So the argument that bringing Polanco up now would benefit the team more than it would hurt us in the long run is just made by fans who either don’t understand (or care about) the reality or who are just panicked with the slow start.
Remember. The Dodgers were .500 last year at the All-Star break and they ended up going to the NL Championship. The Pirates are only 6 games under .500 with 51 games left until the break and they are completely capable of having a strong May without Polanco.
There’s no need to panic. If there’s an area in which we should be looking to immediately upgrade if possible it’s at starting pitcher. Aside from that, we are fully capable of winning with the current players in the field. Even at shortstop.
So be patient and look at the big picture. Polanco playing right field 30 games into the season as opposed to 60 games into the season, isn’t going to make or break the year. Having Polanco eat up $10-15m in arbitration cash in 6 years hand cuffing management to being able to go out and improve the roster in other areas.
Now, THAT….would be another story.
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