Friday, August 19, 2011

Tabata Close, Walker Talking, McCutch Mum

Hey, the beat gang broke some interesting news today. First, Jose Tabata is said to have agreed to a contract extension that would lock him up for six years (including restructuring this year's contract) and includes all three of his arb years. The Bucs are adding three option years after that to cover free agency.

So JT will be under team control until 2019 if all that pans out. Tabata has had a good start. In 175 MLB games, he's hit .285 with a .385 OBP and 102 runs, all pretty good marks for a top of the order guy. His UZR in left field is an excellent 5.7, and we don't foresee him as being anything but a corner OF'er.

This move is a surprise to us; we didn't sense any urgency or really any need  to tie up JT this early in his career. He doesn't hit arbitration until 2013 at the earliest, and we thought the FO would use that for a target date.

But the price tag, as reported by Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes, won't be a bank buster. He says that the guaranteed five years plus bonus will break down to $14.25M and if all the options are exercised, the total value of the package would be $37.25M, quite a backloaded deal. The contract caused a split between JT and his agents, the ACE group; he canned them over "philosophical differences." Apparently they felt it was a little too team friendly - and it is.

Neil Walker has roughly the same service time as JT. While his discussions aren't as far along, to our knowledge, as Tabata's, we can assume the same basic template - five or six years and club options through early free agency, with more money, as befits a RBI guy. The Pittsburgh Kid's career line is .280/22/135 in 247 games.

Hey, it's nice to know that Bucs are tying up their young talent; it sends a message to the players and the fans. The players now know that if they produce, they can have the security blanket of a long guaranteed deal. And it tells the rooters that the future is arriving, and that's why they'll be digging deeper into their pockets in future years.

Off course, the guy that they have to build the future on is Andrew McCutchen, and there's nothing going up between his agent and the management now. We wouldn't read a whole lot into that quite yet.

McCutch is a borderline Super Two arbitration player. If he achieves the time, he'll be trading in a minimum wage year for a top end season financially, and that makes all the difference in the world when the pencil pushers get down to the brass tacks of compensation. So it's the smart play by McCutch's reps, and once that's cleared up, we'd expect talks to take off. They know his signature is the one the Bucs need for credibility.

And while all this was going on, Josh Bell showed up in town after inking a deal with a $5M bonus. Bell said all the right things at his introductory press conference, and will report to Pirate City Monday.

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