The Pirates offered star outfield prospect Gregory Polanco a seven-year contract worth about $25 million guaranteed during spring training, but he turned it down, according to a report Tuesday night by Yahoo Sports.
The deal also reportedly included three years of additional club options, which would have locked up Polanco for 10 years. It would have been worth a total of between $50-60 million, according to Jon Heyman of cbssports.com.
That's a huge amount of money and years for someone who's never played a day in the major leagues.
But if Polanco turns out to be as good as some experts predict, $25 million guaranteed for seven years would be a major bargain.
Polanco is tearing it up this season at Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .392 with four homers and 27 RBIs.
"Who does he remind me of? Barry Bonds," Curve manager Carlos Garcia recently said in a Sports Illustrated article focusing on the 22-year-old prospect.
On one hand, it's risky for Polanco to turn down the kind of money he's been offered and risky for the Pirates to offer so much. There's no guarantee he'll be good enough in the majors to warrant another $25 million offer, and the Pirates could get burned by guaranteeing him that much if he fails or gets injured.
However, Polanco has so much potential that if he does get to the major leagues and enjoys great success his first few years, he could be worth tens of millions of dollars more than the $25 offer. He's banking on himself, and if it pays off, Polanco easily could be worth double or triple that amount of guaranteed money in a few years.
Case in point: Angels outfielder Mike Trout. The 22-year-old is only in his fourth major league season but already is widely considered the game's best all-around player, and he recently signed a six-year contract worth an astounding $144.5 million.
There's no way to determine if Polanco will ever be as good as Trout. But some believe Polanco has similar potential, and if he reaches it, he could blow past a $25 million contract in a hurry.
"That guy can be a difference maker," Garcia, who managed Polanco last season with the Curve, said Tuesday night. "You can build your ballclub around that guy. That guy can beat you in any way. Not even [Andrew] McCutchen, not even Starling [Marte] have the kind of tools that guy has."
Garcia obviously has enormous faith in Polanco's potential.
"The way he behaved and the way he worked, his maturity led me to believe this guy can be something special in this game if the baseball gods allow him to stay healthy," Garcia said. "He will be a difference maker, no doubt in my mind."
- Cory Giger