Baseball · Pirates

Polanco, Pirates Hedge Bets With New Deal

Hedging your bets is a precautionary measure that allows you to prepare for either side of an impending outcome. It’s a common tactic used in gambling, the stock market, and probably something you utilize in everyday life. In the case of Gregory Polanco’s new contract extension with the Pirates, it’s what brought both sides to the bargaining table.

The Polanco signing follows suit with the Pirates recent organizational trend of locking up their young talent. Pirates management leverages an immediate pay raise for years of future control. They throw gobs of money at their prized young players during cheap team controlled years in return for more club friendly salary figures throughout more expensive arbitration and free agency periods. As was the case with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Josh Harrison, the Pirates are banking on player’s eagerness to cash in now.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have guaranteed money in your pocket. A dollar today is always more valuable than a dollar tomorrow. The world of sport can be cruel and fickle, one wrong step and your career could be in jeopardy. Polanco now has at least 35 million reasons to flash that beaming smile of his.

The place where the deal could eventually bite Polanco is in the later years. If he proves to be even an above average player, his 7 million dollar annual salary will be below market value. Given that distinct possibility, it’s still hardly reason to fret. The new agreement is a five year extension with two club options tacked onto the end. Even if Polanco plays out all 7 possible years, he will come out the other end still in his early 30’s and in line for at least one more big money contract.

On the Pirates end, the pact is a well calculated risk. Polanco entered 2014 as the 10th best prospect in the MLB as ranked by Baseball America. Scouts and executives alike drooled over his five tool ability. Though Polanco has yet to put together his true break out season, but he’s shown tantalizing glimpses of his oozing potential.

In his first full season in the bigs last year Polanco displayed plenty of raw ability. He played great defense in right field, covering tons of ground with his gazelle like stride and displaying a cannon arm. He was among the league leaders in outfield assists, notching 13. His long stride also proved handy on the base paths where he swiped 27 bases. Polanco showed encouraging improvement at the dish as well. Over the second half of last season he hit for a .276 average with 6 homeruns, 29 RBI’s, and a .425 slugging percentage.

If Polanco realizes even 90 percent of the hype that initially surrounded him the new contract will be a steal for Pirates. If Polanco never reaches those astronomical aspirations, at the very least the Pirates are afforded cost certainty on a capable everyday right fielder. Though it was a mutual desire to hedge their bets that brought this deal together, it’s with the idea that the gamble will end up paying off handsomely for both.

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