First, here are the salary amounts for the players that did sign:
While Cole’s amount was under the projected $4.2M amount, he still earns a hefty raise from his 541,000 salary from last year. A lot of fans that were outraged at Cole’s salary last year should sleep easy knowing Cole makes millions again (again because of his payday from the signing bonus). It’s a little surprising that Cole didn’t get the projected amount especially with Scott Boras as his agent, but the two didn’t have much to stand on after Cole’s injury-filled season.
Nicasio was another one projected for a higher total, but settled with the team at $3.65M. MLB Trade Rumors actually had him making a million more, but getting the reliever for under $4 is a nice bargain.
Mercer gets just a little more than double his salary from a year at $4.325M. He’s coming off a below average year offensively and down year with the glove, however. There was talk about a possible extension, but that cooled off along with the Jose Quintana trade rumors.
So Watson is the only one that didn’t agree to a deal as Jon Heyman announced that he filed at $6M while the Pirates filed $5.6M, a mere $400,000 difference.
Watson filed at 6M, pirates 5.6M
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 14, 2017
While it seems comical and petty that they would go to an independent hearing over that small of an amount, the Pirates (like a couple teams) operate under the “file-and-trial” method. That means that once today’s deadline has passed and salaries are filed, the Pirates will not negotiate anymore and plan for the hearing. This happened in 2015 when Pedro Alvarez and the Pirates were 500K apart and went to the hearing, which the Pirates lost.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates still work a trade for Watson once his salary is set as it looks like Watson will be a Pirate right before the report date to Bradenton for spring training.