Polanco, 24, was under team control through 2020 via arb. This deal is said to begin next season and cover his first FA year (2021) with a pair of team options afterward, so the Pirates will potentially hold Polanco's rights through 2023, his age 31 season. The deal is expected to be in the mid-$30M range with bigger money back loaded in the options.
|Gregory Polanco joins the long-term club (image: Root Sports)|
The Pirates signed Polanco as a Dominican FA in 2009, when Rene Gayo inked him for $150K. He became a highly rated minor league center fielder, falling in everyone's Top 25 Prospect lists before his call-up. Gregory's now beginning his third MLB season, with a .249/.316/.369 slash in 964 PAs with a 90 OPS+ and 41 stolen bases in 2014-15. His strong second half in 2015 helped his cause; his line was .276/.324/.425. While he's expected to grow into a more mature hitter and add some power with age (he is 6'5", 230 lbs), his glove is already big league with a 6.8 UZR and 18 outfield assists despite the occasional blooper.
The FO is treading a familiar path. Cutch, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison all signed deals that carried into free agency, with options, into their age 31-32 years. Then again, there was Jose Tabata... But this deal looks like another winner; if it ends up with $35M guaranteed over five seasons (Ken Rosenthal's number). That's about today's going rate for a 1-WAR player, and Polanco was a 2.6 WAR guy in 2015.(Of course, there's no way to figure what his arb years would have been worth; often these agreements are made as much for financial certainty/player security than actual dollar projections).
It also, barring injuries and assuming performance is up to snuff, leaves the Pirates with some outfield trinkets to use as future trade bait, with guys like Harold Ramirez, Willie Garcia, Tito Polo and Barrett Barnes floating around in the system.