Bucs hit homer with Polanco extension

PITTSBURGH – Everyone is looking for a good investment, and the Pirates made one on Tuesday.

They locked up Gregory Polanco for at least five years, and perhaps as many as seven. They guaranteed him $35 million, and there’s a possibility he could make $60 if the club options are activated.

Clint Hurdle called it “win-win,” and it’s hard to argue with that.

In the time it took to sign his name to the document, Polanco guaranteed financial security for his family. The Pirates ascertained cost on a player who figures to get better and be an integral part of their lineup.

Polanco is 24 and will be 30 when the guaranteed portion of this contract ends. Those are the years when most players have their best production, so the length is perfect.

If he’s still playing well, those two options can be triggered, but that becomes a year-to-year decision. It’s not just a matter of how well Polanco is doing, by the way. It also depends on the level of talent pushing its way through the minor league system and ready to make the jump to Pittsburgh.

This is how smart teams operate in this era of baseball. Identify players who have a chance to stand out, and sign those who will make up the team’s core. The complementary players will change over the years, and that’s OK.

While the deals are being made at the major league level, the scouting and development staffers have to work to keep a pipeline of talent headed to PNC Park.

Pablo Sandoval recently lost his starting job with the Boston Red Sox, one year after he joined the team on a five-year, $95 million free agent contract.

That’s not a good signing. Sandoval is always overweight, and he’s 29 years old. The Red Sox are committed to him until he’s 34. A player with his conditioning issues isn’t likely to last that long, at least not performing at a high level.

The Red Sox have money to burn, so Sandoval’s dip isn’t as big an issue as it would be for a lot of teams.

But the Pirates don’t have that luxury. They have to be smart in committing to players.

It says here they accomplished that by signing Polanco.

Cause for concern

The Penguins have overcome a lot in the last few months to solidify a playoff position.

They’ve succeeded without Evgeni Malkin, but they’re in trouble if they have to head into the playoffs without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Rookie backup Matt Murray can win playoff games, but can he win a series?

If Fleury returns soon, the Penguins can make a long postseason run. Without him, they might be done in the first round.

Last call

This is the last day to enter the How Many Games Will The Pirates Win contest at my Mainly Mehno blog at altoonamirror.com.

It’s easy, it’s free and you just might win a Pirates-related prize. Good luck and thanks for playing.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.