Saturday, January 01, 2005

Pirates Considering Contract for Wilson

Dejan Kovacevic writes, "The Pirates and shortstop Jack Wilson are negotiating a contract that could cover all three of his remaining arbitration-eligible seasons, and there is optimism it will be completed within two weeks."

What? Rototimes says that Wilson has two arbitration-eligible seasons left, not three. Shouldn't Wilson be eligible for free agency after the 2006 season? Or is he eligible after 2007 because he was a Super 2? I wrote a lengthy post dissing Kovacevic for the sentence above, but now I'm not sure it's not true. Somebody in the know, let me know.

Now, on to the story itself:

Odle [Wilson's agent] would not divulge the financial terms being discussed, but he did acknowledge that other contracts signed this offseason by shortstops are being weighed on his end of the negotiations.

Kovacevic then mentions the $40 million contract for Edgar Renteria and the $16.8 million deal for Cristian Guzman as examples.

Hopefully, the Pirates will dismiss the Guzman deal with an eyeroll. Wilson's a way better player than Guzman, but Guzman's not worth a quarter of what he's being paid.

I'd rather have Renteria than Wilson for the next four years, but it's not obvious that Renteria will be better than Wilson over that period. Still, if Wilson's agent is suggesting that Wilson should get anywhere near $40 million (or even $20 million), the Pirates should just take Wilson to arbitration and forget about a long-term deal for now. This offseason has been very kind to shortstops - Guzman, Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Omar Vizquel and David Eckstein all signed very lucrative deals, and only Nomar Garciaparra and possibly Jose Valentin got less than they were worth.

Ultimately, the Pirates should realize that their contract negotiations with Wilson shouldn't necessarily have anything to do with the current free agent market. The difference between Wilson and the Renterias and Cabreras is that Wilson can't auction his services to the highest bidder. He has to play for the Pirates for the next two years (three?) as long as the Bucs are willing to take him to arbitration. If the Pirates want to reach a three-year deal with Wilson (which, by the way, I don't think is a great idea), the relevant facts should include:

1. Wilson's arbitration values for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, which the Pirates can make educated guesses about; and

2. Wilson's value on the free agent market in the 2006-2007 offseason (if this is, in fact, when he's eligible), which none of us can know much of anything about. In early 2001, who would have thought that Reggie Sanders and Kenny Lofton would be playing for a million bucks in 2003, or that Ivan Rodriguez would be playing for the Marlins on a one-year deal? Not only is it hard to know what kind of player Wilson will be in two years, nobody really knows what the market for free agents will be like.

All this is a very long-winded way of saying that if the Pirates and Jack Wilson want to agree on a long-term contract, the most relevant point should be what Wilson could be awarded in arbitration the next two years. The outlandish contracts for the likes of Orlando Cabrera and Cristian Guzman have very little to do with that.

UPDATE: According to a couple of sources, Kovacevic was right about Wilson's arbitration eligibility. Super 2's get four years of arbitration, not three.


Blogger bkopec said...

My understanding was the same as yours, that Wilson only had 2 more years of arbitration. But that understanding was based on what I read in the local papers, so now you know what it's worth!

Anyway, I can't believe the Pirates are trying to sign Wilson to a contract commensurate with the free agent contracts that have been signed this off-season. The Pirates completely miss the point of being able to control a player's salary prior to his free agent elligibility. If they are going to start signing arbitration elligible players to deals commensurate with comparable free agent deals, then they might as well grant all of their players free agency!!

Wilson is the PERFECT candidate for arbitration. You've got a young player coming off a career year. Take him to arbitration and pay him whatever you have to for NEXT SEASON. If he can repeat his career year, then go ahead and sign him long term. If not, then you've only committed yourself for 1 season, and you can take him back to arbitration or non-tender.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Wilbur Miller said...

Wilson has three more years of arbitration including this year. He was a Super 2 last year. There's no equivalent of that for free agency, so a Super 2 ends up with four arb. years instead of three.

9:16 PM  

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