Pittsburgh Pirates: No Extension Plans for Gerrit Cole

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Pittsburgh Pirates as of now do not have any plans to extend Gerrit Cole.  This rumor is not sitting well with some fans.

The Pittsburgh Pirates over the last few seasons have done a remarkable job of extending their young talent to team friendly deals.  The team this year only has eight players who are arbitration eligible.  The list is made up of mostly relievers and players who recently were acquired.  This is mainly because the Pittsburgh Pirates have bought out their younger players years of arbitration by extending them.  The best example is Starling Marte, who is slated to earn 5.3 million dollars in 2015.  If he was up for arbitration he would most likely be getting closer to ten. So the Bucs are actually saving money when doing that.  Even with this, people are calling the Pittsburgh Pirates cheap for not working to extend Gerrit Cole as of now.

Here is what Biertempfel had to say in his article on the Cole situation:

"However, sources close to the situation told the Tribune-Review there is little chance the Pirates will sign Cole to a multiyear deal that would buy out some of his free agent years.Such an deal wouldn’t make financial sense for Cole unless the team grossly overpaid on the back end."

The deal would not make sense for Cole, mainly because if he continues to pitch like a top end of the rotation pitcher he can be, then he will make more money in arbitration.  The Pittsburgh Pirates may be willing to pay Cole a little more than he would get over his first year of arbitration, but likely will not give him the 15 million plus he will get in the last year of his arbitration.

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Biertempfel goes on to explain more about the Pittsburgh Pirates reasoning as to why it might not make sense for them:

"However, sources have told the Trib the Pirates are not interested in offering Cole a three-year contract.Cole’s struggles this year give the club good ammunition to use if his case goes to an arbitration hearing.The most likely path forward for the Pirates and Cole is a year-by-year slog through arbitration. That’s the same approach the team took with second baseman Neil Walker."

The struggles he is referencing to are not only the ones on the mound, but his injury issues.  A smaller market team like the Pittsburgh Pirates cannot afford to lock up 15 million dollars a season into an injury prone pitcher.  However, they can use the fact that he has had injury issues over two of the last three seasons to help drive his price down in arbitration. In the long run, either way, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have Cole through 2019, and most likely will not have him any longer.  There is one key reason as to why the Pittsburgh Pirates will not be able to extend Cole.

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Scott Boras is Cole’s agent. If you are a big baseball fan you know the story behind Boras.  If you do not, then you need to understand that he is the best/worst agent in sports.  Boras is the toughest agent to negotiate with.  He is known for getting every dollar possible for his clients.  What he is also known for is pushing his clients to not extend while in their entry contract.  He wants his clients to get as much money as possible their first time in free agency.

Even if the Pittsburgh Pirates were prepared to extend Gerrit Cole, it would not be so simple.  First off, they would have to be willing to invest a significant amount of money into an “injury prone” pitcher.  Second, they would have to be able to convince Cole and Boras that the money they are offering will be just as much, if not more than what he will earn in arbitration.  Third, they would have to able to convince Boras and Cole that he should stay in Pittsburgh.

With all that being said, none if this is about the Pittsburgh Pirates being “cheap” necessarily.  The Bucs have Cole locked up through 2019, there is no urgency to extend him right now anyhow.  Also, it just is not very realistic at this point, with Cole’s current contract situation and agent.  For now, just relax, and enjoy having Cole here for three more seasons!