Get ready for more Mr. Freese at PNC Park as the Pirates announced this afternoon that they’ve inked David Freese to a 2-year extension that includes a 2019 team option.
It’s a very team-friendly deal with Freese set to make $6.25M next year, $4.25M in 2018 with a buyout of 500K and a team option worth an affordable $6M. This is a win/win for the Pirates and Freese as he looked for a multi-year deal in the offseason before settling on the Pirates 1 year/$3M deal.
The 33-year-old former Cardinals hero came into camp viewed as a bench player that could play some third base and he morphed back into an everyday player, hitting .276/.355/.437 for an OPS of .792 through 107 games this season. He’s belted 12 home runs, 20 doubles and been worth a 2.0 wins above replacement. He not only has provided solid defense at third base, but stepped in to play first base for the first time since 2011 and has done his job across the diamond as well.
I’ll be honest, I never thought this deal would happen. I figured Freese would want to hit the open market. The extension is an incredibly team-friendly deal as I think Freese would have gotten more on the open market with someone paying him for the year he’s having, but he says he’s at peace and comfortable with playing in Pittsburgh, similar to what we heard from A.J. Burnett in his short time here. Kudos to the front office for getting this done now.
It’s difficult to imagine the local media finding something wrong about this extension, but don’t underestimate them, they will in due time.
The fall out from this deal is where does this leave Jung Ho Kang? Kang is signed to a team-friendly deal as well for the next two years and an option in 2019. Unless the Pirates know something more and Kang is going to face charges from his accused sexual assault in June, Kang goes to the bench or be moved in a favorable contract that a lot of teams would take a chance on. Kang was hitting .243/.326/.481 when he went on the DL over the weekend. But with him making just $2.75M next season and $3M in 2018, I don’t see why he couldn’t just serve as a utility player as short and third and be relegated to pinch-hitting. At the very least, it gives the team some quality options off the bench.
With this extension it would appear the Pirates dumped Francisco Liriano‘s salary to Toronto at the deadline so they could talk extensions with Freese and possibly Neftali Feliz. The Pittsburgh media will tell you they were cutting payroll because ownership is cheap. In reality, they were reallocating the money from an aging 5.46 pitcher to a player that was needed for the next couple years. The local media’s narratives on cutting payroll just took a big hit.