Yesterday, it was announced that Gerrit Cole was disgruntled over his contract situation. Apparently, he felt as if he was low balled into signing the deal the Pirates presented him and disrespected. Of course as predicted, Yinzer Nation went ballistic on all fronts to bash the front office because of this and were quick to give their witty and completely creative banter about the organization being cheap.
Let’s go ahead and breakdown what this player has done. Gerrit Cole, a young All-Star pitcher, is heading into his 3rd full season of MLB. During that time, he has compiled a 3.07 ERA in 463 innings to a tune of 10.2 Wins Above Replacement. This is all very impressive and ranks him as the 19th best starting pitcher since his call up. He has also compiled 40 wins and 440 strikeouts. Everything here screams Ace pitcher, and that is exactly what Gerrit Cole has turned into.
Next season he will be Arbitration Eligible. This is very important. Players in their 0-3 years of service time basically have to take whatever contract their assigned team provides them. If they do not, they could be forced to sign for the league minimum. Cole’s salaries since his call up have been 490k, 519k, 531k, and then he was just given a raise to 541k for this season. His 541k makes him the highest paid player in franchise history pre-arbitration. Apparently, this is causing un uproar with Pirate fans. Maybe it is time to put this all in perspective.
The New York Mets are coming off a World Series loss. They had a remarkable late season run to propel them into the playoffs but fell just short to the Kansas City Royals. The Mets are built on a very young and very, very good pitching rotation. The names of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, and Steven Matz, should not come unrecognized. Between the first 3 pitchers, they all ranked in the top 32 pitchers in WAR leaders. Understanding that there is only 30 MLB teams, basically each could headline a rotation somewhere. You could easily say all of these pitchers need to be paid for the same argument this Gerrit Cole situation is presenting. Last season, they were paid base salaries of 614k, 556k, and 410k, respectably. I’m sorry, but if these numbers are shocking to you, then maybe this is where you need to do some research or understand the business side of the game a little more before you start slinging bias opinions throughout social media.
Unfortunately for the players, the CBA is what allows teams to do this. Players do not really start to get paid until they reach their arbitration hearings. Even then, they typically aren’t earning their full potential until either their last year of hearings or until they become a free agent. Major League Baseball truly is a rags and riches business model. Almost 2/3 of your team is making pennies on the dollar compared to the remaining 1/3, or even worse (I didn’t take time out to actually do the math. Pitt is about to play Duke). If you really want to have your voice heard, barking up the owners tree isn’t going to do anything. The CBA is what the Players Union and Major League Baseball have agreed upon. I can’t agree anymore that there needs to be some tweaks to it, but by no means does it equate to an organization being cheap. It is done throughout all of baseball and it is their right to do it.
Let’s go ahead and take the Mets out of the equation. Other players are going through the same exact process. Shelby Miller, who apparently is worth an entire farm and a 5 WAR outfielder, was given 535k last season. Tyson Ross earned 500k in his year 3. Dallas Kuechel earned 524k last season. Corey Kluber received 514k in 2014. Please, once again, inform me how Gerrit Cole’s contract is egregious because Nutting is a cheap bastard?
Maybe we can also look at this in the reverse perspective. Gerrit Cole was a #1 overall draft pick. People, by no means is he hurting for money. The Pirates handed him an $8 MILLION bonus just for signing him. When everyone wants to talk about how the Pirates are so cheap and there is a disagreement of possibly $30 THOUSAND, maybe we can reflect on how the Pirates were handing out record bonuses in the MLB Draft. MLB essentially changed the slot bonus structure solely because of what the Pirates were doing. The very nest draft, Carlos Correa was given a $4.8 million bonus. Some may say there should be a bit more gratuity for the money the players were handed up front when all the risk was on the organization. Cole hadn’t pitched a day in pro baseball and was made 8 million dollars rich.
I am not saying by any means that Gerrit Cole is a pompous asshole and should be so lucky he’s here and take whatever it is that the Pirates hand him. I am saying, though, that the system itself is somewhat broke and needs some tweaking. Scott Boras himself has said it, and it is no surprise that this info just so happened to come out now when news is slow and new CBA talks are going to be opening up. Players and teams go through this every single year. The difference with this story compared to the others is that it was actually made a story. Here I am writing about the situation because Scott Boras wants to make sure his wallet is always increasing and some writer knew just how to feed Yinzer Nation. Everybody enjoy the Panthers game now and focus on this upcoming season. If you weren’t always so wrapped up into finding a way to bash it, you may actually even enjoy it.