Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the club “made a mistake” in determining ace Gerrit Cole’s 2016 salary upon their initial take. “Gerrit’s base salary a year ago plus his bonus took him above our scale,” Huntington explained. “We initially did not incorporate the bonus that he earned last year for making the All-Star team. We made that adjustment, took him above our scale. Gerrit agreed. Unhappy with that. We understand that, we can empathize with him. At the same time there is a system in place that is negotiated by the union and by Major League Baseball.” Over the weekend, Cole voiced some displeasure with his modest salary, although the scale and the system to which Huntington alluded aren’t uncommon. Many clubs use algorithms based on service time and performance to determine the salary of pre-arbitration players, and the Pirates are simply acting as they would with any of their pre-arbitration players by adhering to that scale. (ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that the team would be wise to make a small concession on Cole’s behalf, suggesting a fairly marginal increase to $750K as a means of good will to acknowledge Cole’s importance to the club.) For those interested in reading more on the topic, MLBTR’s Zach Links examined the means by which pre-arb salaries are determined a couple of years ago.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- There’s positive movement on the negotiation front between the Royals and catcher Salvador Perez, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. The sides have long been working toward a new deal for the backstop, who made good on his low-priced, early-career extension. It certainly will be interesting to see what kind of contractual arrangement is arrived at if something gets across the finish line.
- The Brewers’ center field situation is as wide open as spring battles get, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel takes a look at where things stand. There are as many as nine plausible candidates to claim the Opening Day gig, with possible bench spots and minor league opportunities also at stake, so there’s plenty of intrigue to go around. Skipper Craig Counsell calls it a “roster puzzle” that needs to be solved, and Haudricourt provides plenty of preliminary clues in the interesting piece.
- Cubs third base prospect Christian Villanueva suffered a broken right fibula during a Sunday workout and will miss several months recovering from the injury, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Villanueva, who was expected to have surgery today, according to Muskat, was injured upon landing after leaping for a ball in play, said manager Joe Maddon. “It’s just crazy,” said Maddon. “It’s really unfortunate. This kid came in, ready to go. … It’s a tough break, literally, for him — he’s such a good kid.” Villanueva ranked 26th on MLB.com’s list of Top 30 Cubs prospects, though he’s fallen off Baseball America’s version of that same list after multiple prior appearances.