Not everyone is sold on Gregory Polanco’s extension. Here now is a look at the dissenting views in the latest installment of our Point/Counterpoint series.
Jacob: The Pirates signing Gregory Polanco to the extension that they did is a steal for the team. The potential that this player has is more than worth the risk that the Pirates are taking with this contract extension. Polanco has played an above average right field, especially at PNC Park, where it is not necessarily easy with the Clemente wall bearing down on your back. Polanco has flashed the potential of all of his tools. His speed, his glove, his arm, the ability to hit for power at times, and the ability to get on base has been more than suitable for the Pirates. For $35 million over five years, the real question should be why Polanco’s agent let him sign this deal with all the potential that his client has. Consider this as a steal for the Pirates.
Aaron: Jacob, I understand what you are saying but I think there are concerns about this contract. First is the issue of his potential. There is no doubt Polanco has potential but he didn’t have the best of years last year. (Maybe there was some truth in what Neal Huntington said about Polanco needing time.)
I know he did well on opening day but what is to say he is going to reach his potential or come anywhere close? From the signing of the contract one can make the argument Polanco feels that way too or else he would have taken his chances when arbitration came around.
Jacob: I agree that Polanco hasn’t reached his potential yet. However, he has been a more than serviceable player for the Pirates. He had such high expectations when he came up to the big leagues, there was no way he could reach them in a year and a half of major league service.
Let me compare Polanco’s first full year in the majors to Starling Marte‘s.
Polanco played in 18 more games, he had six more extra base hits and recorded 17 more RBI’s. Polanco has not been able to reach the averages that the team would like, but I think time will show that he will be a above average batter. The Pirates were willing to take a risk on Marte with a small sample size and it panned out so far. This is what the Pirates have to do to compete with the big markets. If they have a big time prospect come up and he has been serviceable in his first year and a half in the majors, they have to take a risk. If they wait for him to reach his potential, there is a very slim chance for them to keep him in Pittsburgh due to money restrictions. This is the game small markets have to play. So far, the Pirates have played the game well.
Aaron: It’s funny I’m always taking the con side of these discussions because I’m personall a positive person. I do like the potential Polanco offers and I would love for him to reach or exceed expectations that the Pirates have for him. Aside from his potential there is another factor to consider regarding Polanco’s extension; the issue of potentially blocking prospects making their way through the minor leagues. With players like Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez and others starting to break out does it make sense for the Pirates to extend a player like Polanco when a better, cheaper player is waiting in the wings? You talk about the financial restrictions the Pirates have but waiting for a better, cheaper player would seem to be a better play for them.
Jacob: It seems to be a common occurrence that Pirates fans call the ownership of the Pirates “cheap.” We know at the very least, we have a serviceable player in Polanco. We have no idea what we are going to get with Meadows or any other prospect that hasn’t even sniffed Triple A yet. The Pirates ownership is trying to spend money and lock up a young core that has taken the organization to the playoffs the last three seasons.
Personally, I would be appalled if the organization was not spending the money and locking up this young core of players that the team has. The window for winning in baseball is not always the biggest. With the Pirates locking up players like Liriano, Polanco, Marte and Harrison, it shows that they are committed to winning and to win for the foreseeable future. The Pirates are finally doing what fans have been waiting for them to do…they are spending money. I think it would be hypocritical to for us as writers and fans to say “go for the cheaper option.” They need to keep this group of guys together, and that’s what they are doing.
Aaron: I completely agree the Pirates are spending money. The question is are they spending money in the right way and the right people? At first glance, it would seem this is a good contract but I can’t help but think the extension is a mistake. Clearly the Pirates are “buying low” but it may have made more sense to see how Gregory Polanco would have done this season before signing him to a similar length contract. This way they would have also been able to buy out another year of free agency as well.