Pittsburgh Pirates Avoid Arbitration With Three Players

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have avoided arbitration with Jordy Mercer, Gerrit Cole, and George KontosFelipe Rivero will go to arbitration.

Jordy Mercer, who has been the Pirates since 2014, has avoided arbitration with the Pirates coming to terms on $6.75 million according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.  Last season Mercer made $4.325 million in arbitration, giving him a nice 56 percent pay raise for 2018, his final year of arbitration and club control.

In 2017, Mercer hit .255/.326/.406 with a .308 wOBA and 88 wRC+.  After a 2016 season that saw Mercer have -9 runs saved and an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of -8.4, while not great, Mercer did have a better defensive season in 2017, saving -1 runs and having a UZR of -1.4.  For the season, Mercer was worth 1.4 wins above replacement.

Mercer’s 2018 projected arbitration salary by MLB Trade Rumors was $6.5 million.  STEAMER, a projection system, has Mercer at a .262/.329/.401 slash line with a .310 wOBA and 89 wRC+ while being worth 1.2 wins above replacement, essentially projecting him to produce role player results.

Gerrit Cole, in his second year of arbitration, will also make $6.75 million according to Biertempfel.

After a season in which Cole had 100 ERA- and a 96 FIP-, the second worst and the worst marks in his career, Cole will recieve an 80 percent increase in pay from last season.  Cole, who has seen his name in trade rumors this offseason, is projected at a 3.90 ERA and 3.71 FIP by STEAMER, last season he was at 4.26 and 4.08 with a home run problem.

Cole will receive $750,000 less than what MLB Trade Rumors projected him for ($7.5 million).  At $6.5 million and a projected 3.8 fWAR (a good player by Fangraph’s rule of thumb), Cole will provide tremendous value to the Pirates, or whatever team he plays for in 2018.

George Kontos, who is in his third year of being eligible for arbitration, has come to an agreement with the Pirates for $2,725,000 according to Bill Brink.  MLB Trade Rumors projected Kontos at $2.7 million, so right on the dot.

Kontos came from the Giants in August and pitched to a 1.84 ERA and 2.61 FIP in his 14.2 innings.  Overall for the year, he had a 3.39 ERA and 3.72 FIP in 66.1 innings, and Kontos produced a career best 25.2 percent strikeout rate.  Next season Kontos looks to slide into the backend of the bullpen, for at least the start of the season.  STEAMER projects him for a 4.32 ERA and 4.22 FIP in 2018.

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Felipe Rivero, who is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3.1 million in arbitration, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates.  Rivero filed for $2.9 million and the Pirates at $2.4 million according to Jon Heyman of Fanrag sports.

Rivero is set to be the Pirates closer in 2018 after he posted a 1.67 ERA, 2.47 FIP, and recorded 21 saves in 75.1 innings.  STEAMER projects Rivero at a 2.93 ERA and 2.98 FIP in 2018.  The Pirates are typically file and trial, so unless they come to an extension, expect this to go to an arbitration hearing.

*Numbers from fangraphs