Is it time for Gregory Polanco to get a new contract or simply wait another year or longer for the team to make that determination. If the Pittsburgh Pirates wait until Polanco hits his stride, will it be too late or do they follow the new Pittsburgh Pirate way and give him a multi-year contract to ensure that their young talent stays within the organization? You don’t have to look to far to see the formula that the Pirates are following starting with the contracst of Andrew McCutchen in 2012, Starling Marte in 2014, Jose Tabata (a bust to this point as he dwells in the minor leagues) and this year, Josh Harrison.
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Thus far this year, Polanco is not filling up the box score on a nightly basis but, to be fair, the Pirates offense has been stagnant at best to start the season. He batted in the number three spot in the batting order for the first time in his career last Friday and promptly went three for four and scored a run in a 6-3 Pirate victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. His problem to this point has been strikeouts and this is not acceptable, but the Pirates can’t find another spot in the batting order to put him without shacking up things too much.
Another big concern that must be prying on the mind of the Pirates front office is that Polanco was a shooting star early last year and then he didn’t just fizzle out, but crashed. The thought process this offseason was to put some muscle on him and make sure that he can take the grind of a 162 game season. The offseason muscle gain can be evaluated as the season winds into the summer and fall but what is to be made of the strikeout problem? Is Polanco just lacking discipline at the plate or have opposing pitchers seen enough footage of him to get a grasp of what Polanco can and can’t handle. If this is the case, will he then adjust to the different pitching methods used against him?
If the Pittsburgh Pirates wait until Polanco hits his stride, will it be too late, or do they follow the new Pittsburgh Pirate way and give him a multi-year contract to ensure that their young talent stays within the organization?
Again, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made some bad contract decisions in the past as noted with Tabata, but how long are the Pirates willing to wait? In reality, Gregory Polanco is their choice in right field and to bat in a very prominent position this year and beyond. His salary this year is for $531,000 and he doesn’t become arbitration eligible until 2018 and free agency wouldn’t strike until 2021. This seems like a very long way off but when the Pirates signed Josh Harrison to his new four year $50.3 million contract after only one solid major league season, things changed for the Pirates.
If Polanco is signed at what price will it be and something else to consider is the status of starting pitcher Gerrit Cole who is also making $531,000 this season. The Pittsburgh Pirates payroll continues to increase in a good way since they are signing their own young stars to big deals and creating a positive winning atmosphere with their youth. I think Polanco will be signed to a new deal sometime after the all-star game and this will allow him to relax and just play at a new higher level for the rest of the season.